Novell ups provisioning in ID offering

Addressing what analysts have said was the main deficiency in its identity management suite, Novell has enhanced the provisioning functionality in the newly released Novell Identity Manager 3 (IdM 3).

Ross Chevalier, CTO and CIO for Novell Canada, said Novell has heard from the market that companies want a way to more easily integrate different applications and services with higher quality and security without increasing complexity. They’re also looking to drive down operational costs.

“Network managers are very concerned about the high operational cost of help desk calls,” said Chevalier. “At the executive level, we hear about the cost when someone joins an organization and how long it takes before they’re set up with everything they need.”

By providing a number of automation and workflow tools to help companies with user lifecycle management and compliance through a centralized management interface, Chevalier said IdM 3 reduces the complexity and amount of disparate management that needs to be done.

An open-standards-based, enterprise-class meta-directory sits at the heart of the system, connecting with other vendors’ business, database, human resources and collaboration systems, any of which might have its own directory and authentication management system.

“By connecting those via a meta directory we simplify dramatically the ability to do not only end-user device management, but also to automate a number of things,” said Chevalier.

Among the key additions in IdM 3 Chevalier highlighted are a user-level application for process design, more scale and data security options, and a workflow designer based on the Eclipse open source standard.

The system is Web-based and accessible through most browsers. Chevalier said the most popular feature is probably user self-administration for password resets. Also, when someone goes on vacation they can reassign their access and responsibilities to another user.

“In an un-automated enterprise, passwords continue to be the number one source of calls to help desks,” said Chevalier. “Rather than mitigate that partially by making it easier for the help desk we go a step further and make it easy for the user to manage (their) own password.”

Nik Nikols, a senior analyst with the Burton Group in Midvale, Utah, said Novell’s identity management tool has always been good with synchronization and automated, data-driven provisioning.

Where it had been lacking was provisioning that required manual intervention, such as directing a person to purchase an office chair or a laptop.

He said that deficiency has now been addressed in IdM 3, helping it stack up even better with competitors like Sun Microsystems, IBM and newcomer Oracle.

“Novell is one of the more mature players in this space,” said Nikols. “This really rounds out their overall provisioning capability.” Window shade manufacturer Hunter Douglas Inc., based in Broomfield, Col., is currently deploying IdM 3.

IT director Brian Hobbs said that with 2,800 users spread across 30 North American locations, the firm wanted to give users one username and password for their multiple systems.

“The more systems we rolled out we gave everyone a new ID and password, and I think it was [creating] user frustration,” said Hobbs, adding that Hunter Douglas didn’t look at other programs.

“We use other Novell products and we have a lot of confidence in Novell, so it wasn’t even an open RFP.” Hobbs added that easy integration with existing Novell products, including NetWare and GroupWise, was a key selling point.

The system should be up and running by mid-January, and Hobbs said he’s expecting the biggest savings will be from the user self-provisioning capability, which should take some pressure off the helpdesk.

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