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What is an Application (App) Gateway?

An app gateway is an enterprise security solution that lets users access traditional web applications hosted in corporate data centers using the same logon credentials and methods they use to access mobile apps and cloud services. App gateways help businesses improve user satisfaction by simplifying and unifying remote access security, and they reduce IT operations expense and complexity by eliminating the need for costly and complicated VPNs.

App Gateways Eliminate VPN Hassles and Frustration

Today’s on-the-go employees work from any place at any time using laptops, smartphones, and tablets. They rely on a variety of applications to perform their jobs including traditional enterprise applications hosted in corporate data centers and SaaS solutions running in the cloud. Yet many remote users are forced to use one set of security credentials and methods to access enterprise-hosted solutions (SharePoint repositories, Oracle databases, etc.) and a different set to access cloud-based applications and services (Salesforce, Box, etc.).

The issue is that many businesses still use Virtual Private Network (VPN) solutions to securely extend enterprise networks to remote workers. VPNs protect against unauthorized access and data disclosure by authenticating remote users and encrypting traffic flowing over the public internet. But VPNs are notoriously expensive and complex to roll out, administer, and maintain. They require special-purpose on-premises appliances that can be tricky to deploy and configure. And they require special-purpose endpoint software that takes time and effort to install, support, and keep up-to-date. Worse still, once a user connects to the corporate network using a VPN solution, they have full access to all enterprise applications and services.

Application gateways streamline IT operations and improve user experiences by eliminating VPNs and simplifying remote access. With an app gateway, mobile users and remote workers can access all their on-premises and cloud-based applications in a consistent manner using a single set of credentials, without requiring any special-purpose client software or any changes to application code. Better still, with an app gateway, IT organizations can enforce access privileges on a per-app basis for tighter control and greater security.

App Gateway Features and Functions

Unlike legacy VPN appliances, app gateways are easy to install and set up. App gateways are software-based solutions that run on industry-standard servers. They are deployed in the enterprise data center behind the firewall, without configuration changes. And they use standards-based protocols like SSL to encrypt data flowing over the public internet. Better still, app gateways don’t require special endpoint software. Instead, users sign on via a secure web portal.

Modern app gateways support Single Sign-On (SSO) and Multi-factor Authentication (MFA) functionality for ultimate security and convenience. SSO lets users access all their business applications and services using a single set of logon credentials. And MFA requires users to provide an additional form of authentication like an SMS code for added security.

The latest MFA solutions support adaptive authentication methods, using contextual information (location, time-of-day, IP address, device type, etc.) and business rules to determine which authentication factors to apply to a particular user in a particular situation. For example, an employee accessing an enterprise application from a trusted home computer might be allowed to log on using only a username and password. But a user accessing the app from a foreign country might also be required to enter a one-time, short-lived SMS code.

App Gateway Advantages and Benefits

App gateways help simplify operations and improve user satisfaction. Key benefits and advantages include:

  • Superior user experiences – with an app gateway, users seamlessly access all their applications and services, from any location or device, using a single set of logon credentials.
  • Simplified operations – app gateways streamline IT operations by eliminating VPN complexity, avoiding endpoint software support and upgrade hassles, and reducing trouble tickets and help desk interactions.
  • Risk mitigation – app gateways strengthen security by enforcing fine-grained access controls for enterprise applications, reducing attack surfaces, and protecting against credential theft and data loss.

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