Novell adds to identity management

Employees’ calls to IT departments to reset passwords not only monopolize the time of help-desk employees but also cost money. Now there is a new offering from Novell Inc. to help enterprises and users better manage their identities.

Last month, Provo, Utah-based Novell Inc. unveiled its new Nsure Resources, a product designed to help enterprises streamline identity management – to automatically create, modify and delete user accounts.

Ross Chevalier director of technology at Markham, Ont.-based Novell Canada Inc., said Nsure Resources takes a set of systems such as Human Resources applications, e-mail packages, directories and network operating systems, and links them together. Once one user account is created in the designated authoritative system (usually the HR application), the user account is created on all the other linked systems.

This means user accounts for multiple applications can be created or deleted automatically in one shot. Chevalier said this feature decreases security risks and improves productivity.

The newest addition of its Nsure products line, Nsure Resources incorporates eDirectory and DirXML technology into Nsure Resources. It runs on Microsoft 2000/NT, Solaris, Linux and Novell NetWare operating systems.

The Nsure product line falls under Novell’s Nsure Solutions umbrella, products and services for identity management in the enterprise. Nsure is one of four categories Novell has grouped its products around in an attempt to better define themselves as a company.

Mount Sinai New York University (NYU) Health System in New York City has adopted the Nsure solutions. Shawn Welsh, director of distributed systems engineering at the hospital, said doctors were getting fed up of having to memorize different user names and passwords to access different computer applications.

That’s why Mount Sinai deployed two of Novell Inc.’s applications that are part of Novell’s Nsure Solutions products line – eDirectory and DirXML – in order to enable its users to access clinical information from disparate sources through a portal from any location.

“What we wound up doing was being able to link all of the IDs and passwords together so you would only have one ID and password to remember,” Welsh said. “But if you get prompted or challenged, you’re not sitting there trying to figure out what ID and password to use; there’s only one.”

Now, password reset calls to the help desk at Mount Sinai have been diminished significantly, Welsh said. And its amount of users has almost doubled since the initiation of the portal in December 2001 from about 4,000 users to 8,000.

Novell’s eDirectory was the central store for data integration. And DirXML integrated the data dispersed throughout the multiple databases and applications and created a single identity for each user, similar to Nsure Resources.

Roberta Witty, research director, information securities strategy at Stanford, Conn.-based Gartner Group Inc., said Novell is the only company other than IBM Inc. to offer a full range of identity and access management applications and that they are well positioned in the market with the eDirectory and DirXML products. She said the challenge for Novell would be to support platforms other than eDirectory.

Jonathan Penn, an analyst covering directory services, security and enterprise messaging for Santa Clara, Calif.-based Giga Information Group, agreed. He said the challenge for Novell is to develop a greater level of integration, and they’re not quite there yet.

However, he said Novell is getting some traction in this market, that this is an area in which companies are still spending, and that enterprises do understand the value these solutions can provide.

Warren Shiau, an analyst at Toronto-based IDC Canada Ltd., said that one of the biggest detriments to user productivity is the user having to flip to different screens and having to participate in multiple sign-ons.

“I would think that relative to traditional markets they (Novell) have a better opportunity here because it’s still open,” he said.

Nsure Resources costs US$35 per user. For more information see www.novell.com.

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