METHOD AND APPARATUS FOR
INTEGRATING DISTRIBUTED SHARED
RELATED APPLICATIONS 5
This application is a continuation of and claims priority from U.S. patent application Ser. No. 09/750,596, filed Dec. 28, 2000 now U.S. Pat. No. 6,954,799, entitled METHOD AND APPARATUS FOR INTEGRATING DISTRIBUTED 10 SHARED SERVICES SYSTEM, which claims priority to provisional application No. 60/179,584 titled Method and Apparatus for Integrating Distributed Shared Services System filed on Feb. 1, 2000 under 35 USC §119, and both of these earlier applications are incorporated by reference 15 herein.
PRIORITY CLAIM UNDER 35 USC § 119
This application claims priority to provisional application 20 No. 60/179,584 titled Method and Apparatus for Integrating Distributed Shared Services System filed on Feb. 1, 2000 under 35 USC §119.
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION 25
1. Field of the Invention
The present invention relates to method and apparatus for integrating distributed shared services system. In particular, the present invention relates to method and apparatus for 30 integrating web based applications with each other and with other centralized application which provides a single sign-on approach for authentication and authorization services for distributed web sites and which requires no access time back to the authentication/authorization server. 35
2. Description of the Related Art
The rising use of the world wide web (the web) for access and distribution of information has prompted many service providers and retailers alike to adopt the internet as a principal information portal for customers and clients. For example, 40 traditional brick and mortar companies are creating and providing their web sites to interface and interact with their customers. This approach is beneficial to both parties alike for many reasons. Some of these reasons include the speed at which the sought information can be transferred to the 45 intended recipient, the cost effective manner in which to provide information compared to, for example, traditional postal systems. In the case of banks, customers can easily log onto the bank's web site and after a login procedure, can access their account information with little or no wait time. 50 Moreover, depending on the speed at which the banks can update the account information, the customers can also retrieve up-to-date account activity information. At the other end, the banks can obtain substantial savings by providing and maintaining their web site for interaction with their cus- 55 tomers as opposed to having dedicated customer support personnel properly trained and made available around the clock.
Recognizing the web site and the internet as a principal medium for businesses to interact with their clients and cus- 60 tomers, in addition to providing information specific to the client and customer vis a vis the business, the businesses are also expanding their web sites to provide information and access to related businesses or links (for example, by providing hypertext links within their web site linked to a Uniform 65 Resource Locator (URL) of another related business or information provider).
In the case of brokerage firms and investment banks, in addition to the ability to retrieve account information, the customers are likely to be interested in information related to various financial instruments and activities. For example, for a brokerage account holder who has a margin account with approval to trade in option contracts, the account holder is likely to be interested in information related to trading in options such as call and put options, as well as detailed information on how option contracts are created, bought, sold, traded, and the impact of each of such activity. By way of another example, a relatively new brokerage account holder who recently opened a cash account and a 401K account with the brokerage firm may be interested in obtaining information related to the various different types of IRA accounts, basic trading information and relative risks for the various trading techniques, and so on.
While some brokerage firms and investment banks may have the capability to provide such information, with a growing pool of account holders, many firms find it more expedient to initially outsource to outside vendors who already have established practice of providing information and/or service. In this manner, the firms can better attempt to meet the customers' demand for the rapidly increasing and varied types of related information and/or services.
One disadvantage to the outsourcing approach, however, is that in many cases, the users are required to provide login information each time the user logs onto a third party vendor web site. For example, an account holder with C. Schwab & Co., the assignee of the present application, may wish to enroll in an online interactive education courses that are offered through Schwab.com web site but provided by a third party vendor. After initially logging onto schwab.com's web site, the account holder clicks on a hypertext link in schwab.com's web site, and the account holder's web browser is directed to the web site of the third party vendor providing the online interactive education courses. Here, the Schwab account holder must log in once again to register or to resume the course from where it was left of during the last session.
While still within schwab.com's server domain, the account holder is nevertheless required to separately log onto the third party vendor's site. Such user authentication or validation is necessary each time the account holder clicks on a hypertext link to be redirected to another information source. Moreover, once the account holder provides the log-in information to the third party vendor, the third party vendor must access back to the central server at schwab.com to verify the account holder's log-in information or to retrieve any other information related to the account holder that may be relevant to the account holder vis a vis the third party vendor. For example, in the case where the account holder is returning to a previous online interactive education course, once the account holder logs onto the third party vendor site, the server at the third party vendor accesses the central server at schwab.com to confirm that the account holder is indeed a Schwab account holder, and furthermore, to determine where in the interactive course the account holder left off during the last session.
Additionally, the third party vendor may want to retrieve additional information related to the account holder to better tailor the account holder's interactive course. For example, assuming that the online interactive education course provides information on options trading, the third party vendor would find it useful to have the account holder's trading history to determine whether the account holder has traded in option contracts at all, and if so, how often and so on. This