RED HAT ENTERPRISE LINUX: IDENTITY MANAGEMENT TECHNOLOGY BRIEF
IDM IN RED HAT ENTERPRISE LINUX IS AN UMBRELLA FOR STANDARD NETWORKING SERVICES SUCH AS:
Today’s application environments are large, dynamic, and often virtualized. Systems can be spun up and shut down in a matter of seconds, so centralized identity management becomes essential to securing the environment. Local user accounts and per-machine policies do not scale to meet today’s needs.
• Certificate services
Red Hat® Enterprise Linux® gives customers a centralized way to manage identities and define access-control policies for users, machines, and services within large Linux and UNIX enterprise environments. In addition, identity management features simplify maintenance of multiple domains by supporting interoperability with Microsoft Active Directory.
• DNS • Kerberos • LDAP
Identity management (IdM) in Red Hat Enterprise Linux presents a unifying umbrella for standardsdefined, common network services, including LDAP, Kerberos, DNS, NTP, and certificate services. This allows any Red Hat Enterprise Linux system to serve as a domain controller in a Linux environment. Domain controllers can deliver enterprise-level single-sign-on, certificate management, DNS integration, and command-line and web user interfaces (UI) for managing enterprise identities, certificates, and keys.
CENTRALIZED IDENTITY MANAGEMENT To address the challenges of managing identities in Linux or in a mixed Linux and Windows environment, Red Hat Enterprise Linux: • Supports increasing numbers of systems in the datacenter. • Delivers native Linux interfaces and objects expected by Linux systems. • Provides more advanced capabilities than LDAP, including host-based access control, control over privilege elevation, and certificate management. • Enables Windows and Linux infrastructures to coexist for identity management. • Allows Linux and Windows administrators a clear separation of duties within the IT organization. • Integrates easily with an organization’s life cycle management, provisioning tools, and workflow choices. • Reduces the need for costly third-party integration software.
ACTIVE DIRECTORY INTEROPERABILITY For many organizations, Microsoft Active Directory is the hub for user identity management. It is often the case that all system user accounts, including those from Linux systems, are stored in Active Directory. Therefore, Linux systems need access to Active Directory to perform authentication and identity lookups. Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7 offers two paths to Active Directory access: 1. Direct
integration when Red Hat Enterprise Linux systems are joined directly into an Active Directory domain.
access through cross-realm Kerberos trusts between IdM in Red Hat Enterprise Linux and an Active Directory forest.
FEATURES AND CAPABILITIES DIRECT INTEGRATION If the number of Linux clients in the environment is small, and the cost and time consumed managing these clients individually is not an issue, using direct integration of the clients is an option. Linux systems can be connected to Active Directory directly by configuring a system security services daemon (SSSD), as shown in Figure 1. SSSD acts as an identity and authentication gateway into a central identity store. SSSD can be easily configured using a component called realmd. Realmd detects an available domain based on the DNS records and configures SSSD to interact with the right identity source. Realmd can connect Linux systems to either IdM or Active Directory as shown below. Once the system is joined into the domain, users managed by this domain can access the joined systems. They are authenticated, and their POSIX attributes, as well as group membership, is recognized by the Linux system.
Linux system RHEL0064
Figure 1: Linux system integration with Active Directory.
CROSS-REALM TRUST–BASED INTEGRATION Direct integration is limited, only using the authentication and identity information related to users. Systems do not get policies and data, which limits their identity and access control potential. Linux systems can get policies like SUDO, host-based access control rules, automount, netgroups, SELinux user mappings, and other capabilities from a central identity management server. The identity management server provides centralized management of Linux systems giving them identity and credentials. In most environments, identities that are stored and authenticated by Active Directory also need to have access to Linux resources. That can be accomplished by establishing a trust relationship between the identity management server and Active Directory. Figure 2 shows how users from an Active Directory forest gain access to the Linux systems joined into the identity management domain.
TECHNOLOGY BRIEF Red Hat Enterprise Linux: Identity management
Linux system RHEL0065
Figure 2: Cross-realm trust between Active Directory and Red Hat Enterprise Linux identity management
TABLE 1: CHOOSING BETWEEN DIRECT OR TRUST-BASED INTEGRATION
Number of Linux clients
Small, less than 30
Large, 30 or more
No Red Hat solution out-of-the-box
Included in identity management features
Grows as number of clients grows
Fixed at one connection, Features free in Red Hat Enterprise Linux
Best investment profile
Integrated with Red Hat product portfolio
TECHNOLOGY BRIEF Red Hat Enterprise Linux: Identity management
TABLE 2: BENEFITS OF IDENTITY MANAGEMENT IN RED HAT ENTERPRISE LINUX
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WITHOUT IDENTITY MANAGEMENT
WITH IDENTITY MANAGEMENT
Limited number of Linux systems can be handled per administrator.
Thousands of Linux systems can be centrally managed with limited resources.
All control is in the hands of Active Directory administrators. Responsibilities regarding management of Linux systems are not well defined.
Linux administrators are in charge of the Linux infrastructure, which is brought into the global company infrastructure using trusts with Active Directory.
Per-system client access licenses (CALs) and the extra cost of thirdparty software
No additional cost — included with subscription.
Mixture of vendors
One open source integrated solution: LDAP, Kerberos, DNS, CA
Ease of management
Linux systems are managed with Windows-based tools. Labor intensive, requires extra installation and configuration efforts per system.
Linux systems are managed with Linux tools, including easy-to-use web and command-line interfaces as well as a simple utility to enroll the system.
Ease of deployment
Usually requires installation of nonnative components (clients, agents).
All components are provided.
Varies by solution
Linux systems are controlled over native protocols using concepts natural for Linux.
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Taking advantage of the identity management included in Red Hat Enterprise Linux creates a balanced solution that supports the Linux infrastructure as it grows to meet business needs and the Microsoft Windows segments of the datacenter. This approach facilitates a better separation of duties in the IT organization and allows teams to focus on their core areas of expertise. By eliminating third-party vendors and the overhead of managing systems individually, it streamlines Linux system life cycle management and day-to-day operations to reduce costs.
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