IBM Kills Secure Perspectives Tool
July 21, 2009 Alex Woodie
IBM last week announced the withdrawal from marketing and discontinuance of support for Secure Perspectives, an i OS security tool introduced two years ago with the goal of allowing nontechnical people to define and implement an object-level security policy using nontechnical words and phrases. However, the product will continue to be available as a custom offering, as will updates that allow it to work with future releases of IBM i OS.
Unveiled in April 2007 and shipped a month later, IBM introduced Secure Perspectives as a way to get more i5/OS shops to implement object-level security on their System i servers.
Object-level security is one of the most powerful elements of security on this platform, as it explicitly controls which objects a user has access to and which objects they don’t. Even without other security precautions in place, such as exit point monitoring, if an organization has object-level security implemented, the chances of a major security breach are greatly minimized. (You can chalk up this feature to the AS/400’s amazing object-oriented architecture, which has been keeping AS/400 shops malware-free and [mostly] virus-free for decades, while Windows and Unix architecture, which lack this object-oriented nature, suffer the consequences of their file system attributes.)
While object-level security is powerful, it can also be quite complex. Implementing object-level security can be a real challenge, and requires a good deal of technical expertise. IBM hoped to change that with Secure Perspectives, which sought to convert i5/OS-specific technical jargon into “natural language” terms. But judging from last week’s withdrawal from marketing and support, uptake of the product was not as high as IBM had initially hoped.
Those who adopted Secure Perspectives are not left totally in the lurch. IBM will be phasing out the product over the course of the next couple of years. Effective October 19, customers will no longer be able to buy the Secure Perspectives version 1.2 tool, or a 12-month support package. Over the next two years, various support programs will be wound down. The final date listed is September 30, 2011, when the per-day licensing option for Secure Perspectives is withdrawn.
In its announcement, IBM says the product “will continue to be available as a custom offering delivered by the IBM Systems Lab Services and Training Power Services team.” It goes on to say that “support and enhancements for this tool on future releases of IBM i will be offered as part of this Security Services offering.”
In other words, if you pony up for IBM’s “custom offering,” you can continue to receive updates enabling you to use Secure Perspectives with i 6.2 and future releases. This will undoubtedly be more expensive than the $900 per-processor annual maintenance fee that IBM was initially charging (on top of the $1,500 per processor license fee). But if the product proved useful in these customer settings, it could be worth it to buy IBM’s custom offering.
Customers may also be able to license Secure Perspectives from third-party resellers. For more information, see United States Withdrawal Announcement 900-155 at IBM’s Web site.