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Novell sharpens focus on ID mgmt.

Oct 21, 20025 mins
Access ControlNetworking

Novell last week unveiled its newest security software and tied it into an existing suite of products that, in combination, corporations can deploy to unify management of user identities and access to corporate resources.

PROVO, UTAH – Novell last week unveiled its newest security software and tied it into an existing suite of products that, in combination, corporations can deploy to unify management of user identities and access to corporate resources.

The company introduced Nsure Resources, formerly code-named Mercury, a product that helps companies automate the creation and deletion of accounts, known as provisioning. The product is part of Novell’s Nsure platform for identity management, which Novell detailed last week along with the release of Nsure Resources.

Novell is touting Nsure as the first fully integrated set of products for identity management, the ability to create a common user identity that is tied to attributes, credentials and policies that govern what users can and can’t access on a corporate network.

Identity management is appealing to IT executives who say it can reduce management costs and increase security.

“It has taken a long time to convey this information, but we are really pleased with the way the [Novell] solution is going,” says Troy Aswege, assistant vice president of information services for Nordian Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota. “We are constantly being scrutinized on security and privacy, so we need to control who has access to the network and track that access. The easier that is to manage the better.” Aswege already uses Novell’s iChain for access management and is testing DirXML as a way to tie together his repositories of user authentication data.

Nsure is a collection of Novell network products that provide directory and meta-directory services, provisioning and access management.

Together they can help corporations automate the creation of accounts and assign access rights to those accounts.

But the package can be complex to deploy. Novell also announced extensions to partnerships with Deloitte & Touche and PricewaterhouseCoopers to support deploy ment of Nsure.

The market for identity management software components, such as provisioning and access management, is heating up as companies look to control the glut of users on their networks from inside and outside their firewalls. IDC says revenue generated by identity-management products will increase from $2.6 billion today to $6 billion in 2006.

Nsure is but one of four initiatives Novell recently reorganized around – its second reorganization this year and its latest attempt to resuscitate its business. The others are Extend for Web-based application development, Nterprise for cross-platform network services and Ngage for professional services.

Nsure is Novell’s latest attempt to make a splash in the identity-management market.

It has had some noted failures around creating an identity framework, most notably a project called DigitalMe.

Now it is trying to redefine a bundle of products it rolled out earlier this year called Secure Access that included seven of the products in Nsure.

Those products were BorderManager, SecureLogin, iChain, eDirectory, Modular Authentication Service, Authentication Service and Account Management. The Nsure bundle adds DirXML and Nsure Resources, which itself is another Novell attempt to provide provisioning software. Last year the company introduced its Employee Provisioning System.

Novell officials say Secure Access is now the access management component of Nsure.

Regardless of the rebranding, observers say Nsure’s focus on identity management is hitting on a pain point for many large companies.

“Identity is not just a name,” says Jamie Lewis, president and research directory of Burton Group. “It includes all of the attributes, credentials and policies that allow that ID to do something on the network.”

Novell is seizing on that idea as it tries to rally its products to do battle with IBM, Microsoft and Sun, which recently acquired provisioning vendor Access360. It also faces competition from Courion, which offers an identity-management suite, and a host of point products from Business Layers, Netegrity, Oblix and RSA Security.

“In the past when we thought of ID management, we thought about it as individual pieces,” says Gary Hein, Novell’s vice president of product architecture. “Now we are creating an overall solution around ID management that lets you create, delete, maintain and self-manage identities and then control how you apply those IDs to access resources such as mail, files and applications.”

Hein says Novell’s strength in the directory market provides a cornerstone for tying it all together.

“Only Novell and IBM have complete solutions for ID management, and Novell has a pretty good suite,” says John Enck, an analyst with Gartner. “Their biggest obstacle is going to be overcoming the name Novell.”


Novell’s Nsure offering is a bundle of products that together create a platform for managing user identities and access to resources from inside and outside of a company.
Components Function
BorderManager Content and packet filtering, caching, firewall, VPN, Internet access.
SecureLogin Single sign-on for applications.
iChain External authentication.
Modular Authentication Service Support for biometric systems, smart cards, digital certificates and tokens.
eDirectory Organizes and stores individual identity information and access rights.
Account Management Synchronizes NetWare, Win NT/2000, Solaris, Linux information into eDirectory.
NDS Authentication Service Synchronizes OS/390 Unix, Linux, AS/400 user information into eDirectory.
Nsure Resources Provisions access to applications, services using prebuilt and custom connectors. Also includes workflow capabilities.
DirXML Metadirectory technology for integrating user identity repositories.