Identity management technologies are beginning to weave together the application and network layers of corporate networks, significantly improving access control, easing management burdens and helping users meet stringent compliance and security mandates.

The tools of this emerging trend were on display this month at the annual Digital ID World conference in Santa Clara, Calif. where vendors such as Apere, Applied Identity, Caymas, ConSentry Networks, Identity Engines and Trusted Network Technologies (TNT) displayed their network access control (NAC) gear. NAC relies on identity to determine which machines get on the network — and more importantly, what users are authorized to do once there.

While NAC is gaining momentum, users and analysts say the unification of the network and application layers via identity is a missing link to reducing risk in a compliance-driven world where access is expected from anywhere and network perimeters are