Web Services Authentication Gotcha

We had code in an ASP.NET page trying to call the Commerce Server Profiles web service that resides on the same physical box. The credentials we used were appropriately configured for Commerce Server using AzMan. For some reason, the code was failing with a 401: Unauthorized error. No matter what credentials we used, no luck. But if you ran the code from another box, it worked fine. Same credentials pointing to the service on that box, no errors.

Turns out the hosts file had an entry for the DNS name we were using, and mapped that name to, the loopback address. This was the gotcha. Apparently there is a loopback security feature that causes this behavior. There is a support article describing the effect. Essentially it is a security check to keep certain kinds of attacks at bay. The article suggests registry changes to disable it, but we took a different route.  In the short term, if the calling code accessed the web service via IP address (NOT instead of DNS name the problem was circumvented. Meanwhile the network guru is working to get the actual DNS resolution to work.