Pat Townsend to Resell Valid’s i5/OS Biometric Authentication
February 12, 2008 Alex Woodie
Patrick Townsend & Associates is not only reselling the i5/OS-based Valid Secure Systems Authentication (VSSA) biometric authentication engine from Valid Technologies, it has integrated VSSA with its i5/OS encryption offerings, the company announced last week.
Since it launched VSSA two-and-a-half years ago, Valid Technologies has been carving a niche for itself as the only provider of native biometric authentication software for the i5/OS platform. (Kronos, the developer of time and attendance software, offers biometric authentication for i5/OS applications, but it’s not a native i5/OS implementation.)
VSSA runs under i5/OS only and works hand-in-hand with standard USB-based fingerprint scanners from APC on the one side, and your i5/OS business application of choice (via calls embedded directly into the RPG, COBOL, Java, C++, or Visual Basic source code) on the other. By using VSSA, customers can work toward eliminating the use of passwords for user authentication, which is a notorious drain of time and money for IT pros and help desks.
While the VSSA product appears solid, Valid has struggled a bit to get System i customers to bite. This is no knock on Valid, but a fact that the IT industry in general has been slow to warm to biometric authentication, despite the clear and present danger posed by using passwords to grant access to critical data and applications.
Perhaps this will start to change now that VSSA is being backed by Patrick Townsend, a respected provider of security solutions for i5/OS, Windows, Linux, and other platforms. According to the president of Patrick Townsend (none other than Patrick Townsend himself), Valid’s VSSA offering is good medicine for application authentication problems.
“The IBM System i server holds some of the largest concentrations of sensitive data in the world,” Townsend says. “Until now customers have not had a solution for strong user authentication in applications that access sensitive data. Our new alliance with Valid Technologies gives us advanced capabilities to deploy the only fingerprint biometric user authentication tool designed for i5/OS.”
Pat Townsend says it has integrated its entire suite of i5/OS-based security offerings, which it sells under the Alliance name, with Valid’s VSSA. Chief among these offerings is Alliance AES Encryption (AES/400), which enables System i shops to implement the strongest 256-bit AES encryption routines into their i5/OS applications and databases. The combination of AES/400 and VSSA, properly implemented, would provide a practically impenetrable shield for sensitive i5/OS data.
In addition to the System i, Pat Townsend will help to implement VSSA on non-IBM platforms. While the VSSA fingerprint recognition engine requires i5/OS, the VSSA solution can be used to deploy biometric authentication to other platforms, including Windows Terminal Services. “Through our services group we are ready to help customers implement biometric controls in their own legacy applications on IBM and non-IBM platforms,” Townsend says.