REVIEWER: John Lee, a director of technology solutions at Charles Schwab & Co., Inc.
PLATFORMS: SpaceExtranet operates on an IBM RS/6000 SMP box running AIX with IBM's JDK1.1 installed. Data is stored in an Oracle7.3 data mart.
BACKGROUND: Charles Schwab & Co., Inc., is the nation's largest provider of on-line brokerage services, with over $112 billion in on-line customer assets and over one million active on-line accounts. Schwab's Mutual Fund Marketplace brings together over 300 well-known fund families to enable its customers to trade over 2,000 different mutual funds in one convenient location.
PROBLEM SOLVED: We execute thousands of trades every day, on behalf of hundreds of different mutual fund companies. We needed an absolutely secure way to give these mutual fund companies full, self-service access to data and analysis of their daily sales volume and fund activity. SpaceExtranet from Infospace enabled us to do this while fully leveraging our prior systems and training investments, sparing us the trouble and expense of installing a private network or distributing client-specific software to hundreds of external users.
PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: SpaceExtranet acts as a gatekeeper, supervising requests for information, validating passwords and encrypting the results. Users initiating a new session enter their name and password on a customized log-on page, which is passed through the firewall. Once identification is verified, Infospace's SpaceSQL generates a parameterized query selector based on the user's fund company. Query results are then encrypted and sent back in a format that our customers can use, such as an Excel spreadsheet. No application logic, data or security information resides outside the firewall, so our systems remain safe from direct exposure to the Internet.
STRENGTHS: SpaceExtranet securely extends the benefits of Web-based data access and distribution beyond the firewall to our customers through a simple and familiar browser interface. No other company offered us a similar solution. Because Infospace's solution was designed specifically for the Web, there was no client software to install, and we did not have to worry about distributing software to our customers, much less figure out what kind of computers they were using in some 300 different companies. Also, the tight integration with Infospace's user- management facility made it very easy to customize queries for our end users. Leveraging this feature, we were able to design just a few parameterized definitions that would yield thousands of report options for all our users.
WEAKNESSES: Because of security concerns about opening holes and the difficulties of passing Java applets through a firewall, SpaceExtranet necessarily acts as a proxy, or broker, for requests. This means output currently is limited to HTML only.
SELECTION CRITERIA: We selected Infospace because it offered a complete solution that we could use inside our organization as well as extend secure access beyond the firewall.
DELIVERABLES: SpaceExtranet enables fund managers at 300 separate companies to use a Web browser to securely access parameterized reports from a data mart fed by Schwab's trading systems. These companies can now download exactly the data they need, whenever they want, in a form they can use immediately.
VENDOR SUPPORT: In addition to helping us build our data mart, Infospace's advanced solutions organization was instrumental in installing and configuring SpaceExtranet with our security services.
DOCUMENTATION: Printed documentation is available that details the many functions of SpaceExtranet.
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