Read the case study below:
ING Life (formerly NN Financial) is a leading provider of life insurance products in Canada. The company is based in Ontario
and operates out of three regional offices. Over 2000 brokerage partners market its products [BRUN99, IBM00]. In 1997 most
of the brokers relied on fax, phone, and postal services to request policy information. Response times could sometimes be
measured in hours. The company did have a 56kbps
frame relay wide area network, but that only connected the Ontario
headquarters to 70 managing general agent offices (Figure III.1). The systems in Ontario converted the frame relay requests
to SNA from TCP/IP and routed them to the corporate mainframe in Connecticut.
In December of 1997, ING decided it had to reduce response times to remain competitive and attract new brokers. The
company wanted a cost effective
solution that could provide its brokers fast access to mainframe data and scale to
accommodate new partners. ING investigated extending the existing frame relay network and estimated the cost at a
prohibitive $3.3 million. Instead, the company decided to build an extranet and offer a Web to host
service that would allow
partners to access mainframe data directly via the Internet. ING estimated the annual cost of extranet services for 2000
brokers at $70,000. The annual cost of maintaining the existing WAN for 70 brokers was $750,000.
Besides reducing maintenance costs, the Web to host
solution offered other benefits. The client software installed
automatically as a browser applet, thereby reducing administrative costs. Also, using a browser as an interface meant that
brokers were no longer tied to a specific workstation or PC.
The new solution would include two NT servers, a new SNA gateway (to translate between SNA and IP), and a Cisco Pix
firewall connected to the Internet via a leased T1
line (Figure III.2). The NT servers would run Lotus Notes, IBM Host on
software), and Web server software. Because this service would send private data over the public
Internet, security was a concern. The Pix firewall would prevent unauthorized access to the data. In addition, the Webtohost
software used an SSL (secure sockets layer) connection . Before bringing the service on line, ING had security consultants
probe the system for vulnerabilities.
By July of 1999, ING had 350 brokers connected to the extranet and plans to connect the remaining brokers by sometime in
2000. To use the new service, brokers connect to the Internet using dialup
and point their browser at the Web server. The
Host on Demand client loads automatically as a browser applet. The applet provides TN3270 emulation services. After the
applet has loaded, the broker can access the corporate mainframe as if he is using a directly connected TN3270 terminal.
Response times for extranet requests are less than one minute.
1. Assess the probable difficulties and risks associated with using a public infrastructure such as the Internet.