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RHEL Upgrade Includes Improved Active Directory Integration

It appears the partnership Microsoft and Red Had formed late last year is paying dividends. The release this week of Red Hat Enterprise Linux (6.8), which includes a variety of systems management and security improvements, offers cleaner ties with Active Directory.

Aiming to improve client-side performance and management, the company has added new capabilities to RHEL 6.8's Identity Management client code in System Security Services Daemon (SSSD). The SSSD in RHEL is Red Hat's integration interface between its own Identity Management (IdM) and various identity and authentication providers including Active Directory and LDAP. SSSD also caches user credentials so they're available for authentication if an identity provider goes offline.

A new "cached authentication lookup" capability on the client reduces extraneous communications of credentials with Active Directory servers. Also added was support for the open source adcli, a tool for managing Active Directory domains. Red Hat said SSSD also now supports smart card authentication for login to systems and for functions such as sudo, used for privileged administrative access.

By utilizing the SSSD support, RHEL 6.8 is a viable alternative to LDAP configuration for applications for those looking to utilize enterprise single sign-on using Apache modules because it enables Kerberos-based authentication, allowing users who authenticate via Active Directory not to enter a user ID and password again, said Red Hat engineering director Dmitri Pal, in an April 26 blog post. It also offers improved security, failover, load balancing and awareness of domains and sites versus LDAP, Pal noted.

"Overall, external authentication based on Apache modules adds a lot of flexibility in authentication methods, supports complex domain infrastructures, has better security properties, and raises the resiliency of the application without requiring extra equipment," he stated. However, it does require more complex configuration, he said "but this complexity is well worth the (small amount of) extra effort."

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 05/13/2016 at 9:06 AM


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