Sun OpenSSO Enterprise 8.0 Technical Overview

User Sessions and Single Sign-on

A user session is the interval between the moment a user attempts to log in to a resource protected by OpenSSO Enterprise, and the moment the session expires, is terminated by an administrator, or the user logs out. As an example of a user session, an employee attempts to access the corporate benefits administration application protected by OpenSSO Enterprise. A new invalid session is created, and the Authentication Service prompts the user for a username and password to verify the user's identity. Following a successful authentication, the Policy Service and policy agent work together to check that the user has the appropriate permissions to access the protected application and allows or denies access based on the outcome.

Oftentimes, in the same user session (without logging out of the corporate benefits application), the same employee might attempt to access a corporate expense reporting application. Because the expense reporting application is also protected by OpenSSO Enterprise, the Session Service provides proof of the user’s authentication, and the employee is allowed to access the expense reporting application (based on the outcome of a second authorization check with the Policy Service). If access is granted, the employee has accessed more than one application in a single user session without having to reauthenticate. This is called single sign-on (SSO). When SSO occurs among applications in more than one DNS domain, it is called cross-domain single sign-on (CDSSO). For a more detailed overview of a basic user session, an SSO session, and a CDSSO session, see Chapter 6, Models of the User Session and Single Sign-On Processes.