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Novell puts Identity Management into beta

Cloudy access, uncertain future

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In the wake of its BrainShare EMEA user and partner conference in Amsterdam last week, Novell has opened up the beta for the next iteration of its authentication middleware, Identity Manager 4.

The future of Novell's identity and access management software business — and perhaps someone else's if Novell sells pieces of itself or the whole enchilada as it is rumored to be considering — hinges on the enhancements that the company is weaving into Identity Manager 4.

IDM 4. as Novell likes to call it. is a key component of the mashed-up intelligent workload management toolset strategy Novell debuted back in December 2009. This includes the SUSE Appliance Toolkit for making software appliances, ZENworks systems management tools, PlateSpin virtual server management tools, ManagedObjects business services monitors, and IDM 4.

Novell wants to position this stack — which has yet to be given a consistent name — to build and manage internal cloudy infrastructure as well as public clouds. Novell wants to make security and access controls to software stacks portable, like virtual machines are today (to a certain degree).

In an increasingly virtualized business world — meaning a world with employees, partners, contractors, subcontractors, and outsourcers all doing the work to bring a product to market — being able to give someone roles-based access to applications and data and being able to turn it off in a snap is something companies will pay money for. Doing this manually is just too difficult. So IDM 4 is not just an afterthought for cloudy infrastructure, but integral.

And so is roles-based access control. With Identity Manager 3.6, a roles-based access management module was a separately sold product, but Novell has integrated this module into Identity Manager 4's Advanced Edition.

The Standard Edition will scale across larger numbers of users than IDM 3.6, and will also include prepackaged integration with Microsoft SharePoint collaboration software, SAP ERP suites, and cloudy applications such as Salesforce.com and Google Apps. IDM 4 does not yet talk to and manage infrastructure clouds like Amazon EC2 or Rackspace Cloud hosting.

Dipto Chakravarty, general manager of the Cloud Security business unit at Novell and vice president of worldwide engineering for the unit, did not elaborate on when IDM4 might do access control for popular public clouds, but did say that Novell was working on a cloud security service to provide access control and single sign-on for cloud hosting providers.

Novell is charging a bit more for the Standard Edition of IDM 4 than it did for IDM 3.6: $30 per seat, up from $25.

IDM 4 Advanced Edition provides the roles-based access goodies and has the kinds of reporting and workflow stuff that large enterprises need to spy on their large numbers of end users to more effectively manage large numbers of end users and do all that compliance stuff the lawyers and auditors get so excited about — meaning, who did what when and where. IDM 4 also includes tools for data cleansing, policy framework design, and a drop-and-drag GUI management interface, which means security admins don't need to mess around with CLIs. IDM 4 Advanced Edition costs $50 per seat.

The software is in controlled beta with 58 customers now, and is expected to be ready for commercial deployments in the third quarter of this year. ®

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