Novell Identity Manager 4.0: Novell promises smoother road

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This article appeared in the April, 2010 issue of CRN magazine.

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Novell Identity Manager 4.0: Novell promises smoother road

For even the smallest of small business, it's not just mandatory to comply with regulations and industry requirements--but complying and being able to prove you're in the clear,'right down to every employee on a network, is absolutely critical when it comes to audits and many other business issues.

VARs can take different approaches for their customers when it comes to identity management--including server software or hardware-based appliances. Appliances, if approached correctly, can provide a simple and clean way to introduce this layer of management and security to an enterprise. But appliances also can add overhead to a data center, requiring additional power and cooling resources in their own right.

Software approaches to identity management are able to provide this layer of security without adding a layer of infrastructure. However, there are no guarantees that a software-based approach will reduce overall complexity or performance overhead. There are also potential compatibility and support issues that may need addressing when this software is added into a server or virtual server environment.

For this month's CRNtech, we considered the upcoming launch of Novell (NOVL) Identity Manager 4.0-scheduled to be unveiled later this month at the company's annual BrainShare conference in Amsterdam. While evaluation code was not available prior to the launch, Novell is promising that Novell Identity Manager 4 will simplify workflow design with a GUI-enabled designer tool. In other words, according to Novell, you'll have drag-and-drop capabilities when creating customized access request workflows.'

Identity Manager 4.0 also provides a Role Mapping Administrator--providing a broad but granular view of roles throughout a network.'

But perhaps the biggest deal with Novell Identity Manager 4.0 is what Novell says is enhanced integration, including new connectors for SharePoint and, to provide consistent, integrated ID management across an enterprise--whether the enterprise includes SAP, Lotus Notes or other applications.'

In looking at the current Novell Identity Manager 3.6.1, the CRN Test Centre found a kludgy, disparate system that, while providing some good support for ID management throughout a variety of enterprise applications, was not the smoothest to install or operate. For example, Novell provides x86 support but some functionality requires 64-bit hardware; attempts to install things like the Metadirectory server require other proprietary software from Novell like eDirectory.'

The checklist of pre-installation tasks in 3.6.1 is lengthier than it really should be--considering that competitive, hardware-based appliances remove a lot of the work that Novell forces on you just to get up and running. If version 4.0 cuts down on the complexity and administration overhead, it will be a big deal.

In addition, the full functionality of Novell Identity Manager 3.6.1 couldn't be realised in our installation because our test server was running the 32-bit Windows Server 2008 Standard R2 on a VMware virtual machine.'

Key to getting enterprises to correctly take advantage of security and compliance applications is to make it simple to install, run and operate. Particularly with small or midsize businesses, cost and complexity are enemies. While a lot of good functionality--such as role management and password management--is available in current versions of Novell Identity Manager, we think the company has an opportunity to make a much clearer (and better) statement when it launches version 4.0.'

For now, the bottom line is that appliance-based approaches to enterprise identity management should be considered for those businesses that need to stay in, and prove they are in, compliance with regulations and industry requirements without adding a lot of complexity and administrative overhead. If Novell Identity Manager 4.0 can convert on the promise, and reduce administrative overhead in addition to physical overhead, it will warrant strong consideration.


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