Last issue I had some nice things to say about the new Identity Manager 3.0 product from Novell. It is an exciting product (well, if you're easily excited or if you care a lot about identity services!) and as I talked to Novell's Tyler Crowder and Alan Murray about it, I could envision it as a real moneymaker for the company.The pricing model for Identity Manager is complicated, involving the purchase of licenses for both engine and driver components. Drivers that are not included in the core engine purchase are packaged as integration modules and must be purchased separately. Novell has recently changed the licensing model for all Identity Manager products. "Per-user" licensing has been replaced with "per-identity" licensing. "Per-server" licensing has been replaced with "per-instance" licensing. See Novell's Identity Manager site for list-pricing on the Identity Manager parts, but a quick read shows that you could easily spend a couple hundred thousand dollars plus just to get started.But as I was talking to Crowder and Murray, Sun did something that may have undermined Novell's plans. As Network World reported "[Sun] announced plans to unleash its entire software stack to the open source community. Following through on its promise, Sun announced it would make its Java Enterprise System - a suite of server middleware that includes identity management - ...available for free. "Last time I checked, most enterprise CFOs much preferred "free" to "$200,000" when talking about expenses.Especially when the two products are relatively equal in merit. In its recent "identity management challenge," Network World's sister publication, InfoWorld, rated Novell's Identity Manager and Sun's Java System Identity Manager as No. 1 and No. 2 (with "Very Good" ratings). Sun scored a tenth of a point less than Novell, but was penalized in the category "value." Those positions would most likely be changed were the comparison done today, now that Sun's product is free.Of course, anyone who thinks they can actually implement the Sun solution without spending a buck or two is a good candidate early retirement, but there's still likely to be a big discrepancy in the bottom line cost between these two excellent products.It will be interesting to see how Novell reacts to Sun's announcement. You may just want to ask a question about it when you sit in on Novell's Identity Management seminar next week.Breaking news: As we went to press Novell was announcing its fourth quarter results which, while a mixed bag, were generally good. More on that in the next issue.