RE: Installation - Configuration

Subject: RE: Installation - Configuration
From: mlist -at- safenet-inc -dot- com
To: edina_monsoon_2005 -at- yahoo -dot- co -dot- uk, techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Fri, 7 Apr 2006 14:40:05 -0400

Here's my illustrative example.

The dead-tree document that ships with our product is about four pages (in
tabular form) consisting of:
- a checklist, with small pictures, of what you should have received (these
are the items you should have found in the box)
- a checklist of questions about how it got to you (security questions for
Common Criteria)
- a series of pictures with one-or-two-sentence instructions for mounting
the appliance in a standard server/telco rack, connecting cables to it, etc.
- a final picture of a generic-looking product CD with instruction to plug
the software CD into your administrative computer and EITHER:
-- let automatic software installation happen
-- click START_HERE.html, click the Installation Instruction link for your
operating system and start reading.

That's half of our installation process.

The instructions found within START_HERE.html get you through the software
half of the installation, and maybe point out some options or pitfalls.


Now you (generic "you" meaning customer) must CONFIGURE

You have a lovely and talented system that you've just bolted to a rack,
connected to power and network and other cables. You have your own computer
system to which you have just installed our software. They can't even talk
to each other.... hardly.

You now follow a bunch of instructions to set the clock and other items for
your local situation, replace default network parameters with the real info
about your network.

Then you follow some more instructions to set up a secure, certificate-based
link between the new appliance (that now knows how to live on your network),
and your PC (Windows, Linux, Solaris, HP-UX, AIX... blah, blah).

With that in place, you can begin to configure the onboard HSM (hardware
security module), which means that you tell it to initialize itself and set
up the authentication for various levels of user, tell it to arrange its
innards to one of several possible arrangements (corresponding to tasks you
intend to perform, or security standards to which you (and it) must
conform), tell it which of many operational options you want it to use
(things like: what to do if somebody makes too many bad login attempts - do
you destroy the stuff the bad-guy (or idiot) was after? do you just lock the
account until an administrator shows up? do you lock for a predetermined
period and then unlock, on the assumption that the bad-guy will go away? --
and what constitutes "too many" bad attempts anyway?).... There's a lot of
stuff that needs setting, and for which the default settings may not be the
best choice in your environment.

Next, you do some configuring on the PC itself. You also install all-or-part
of the software on other PCs. The one that you started with is probably
going to be your administrative PC. Others (which could be dozens or
hundreds of servers in a server farm) are going to be clients of the
appliance that you've been configuring. They all need our library and
certain other tools and certificates in order to use the appliance to
perform cryptographic-intensive operations that they would normally perform
on their own, within their own software.

There, you've configured... well, that was one of our simpler boxes.

On an ongoing basis, you will want to ADMINISTER the critter, meaning that
you might change settings as your requirements change, or you might add and
remove users, kill access for certain clients, perform software and firmware
updates, modify your logging requirements and manage the logs, add
additional appliances into redundant high-availability clusters, etc., etc.

So what am I illustrating? There are some high-level commonalities for the
kinds of task that fall under your headings of "Installation",
"Configuration", and "Administration". There's also considerable scope for
variation, depending on the type of product you are documenting. Mine
looked only a little like other people's.


Kevin (wallowing in the Friday-ness of it all)

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