Novell is hedging its bets on its new Identity Manager 4 product on the back of research that the company claims is a confirmation of why reticence still exists among corporates that have failed to move to the cloud. Identity and security concerns are the main problem says Novell.
But Novell's identity manager product has been around since summer 2000, so what's so special about version 4 and wasn't version 3 and 3.6 doing exactly the same job? Isn't Novell just sticking "cloud compliant" on the end of its product feature sets to be all sexy and current?
I asked as many 'developer-level' technical questions as I could to try and uncover whether Identity Manager 4 is cosmetic repackaging and marketing or serious re-engineering. It turns out that this is not simply repackaging but neither is it a complete re-architecting of the product, the new version is 'significant extensions to the platform'. So what are they?
Well, there's advanced reporting brought about by a new reporting engine. Improved implementation capabilities due to easier set up options – the argument being that faster set up equals faster ROI. There's a new role mapping administrator tool that allows different applications to be mapped to the network according to their differing needs. Also fresh are the new policy tools to allow systems admin to replicate a policy framework throughout a business. Novell says that all of these points are needed for SaaS applications and all needed for cloud applications.
None of the above comes from a press release either, you have to dig to get these facts as Novell speaks in broader terms about this technology by saying things like, "We addresses this core [identity and compliance} problem by enabling centralised user provisioning, roles management and secure access to resources and applications."
OK so hang on. This is all pretty damn convenient is it? Privacy and identity are the two main stumbling blocks sat in the way of the enterprise cloud adoption (which is largely true for the most part) – and Novell just happens to sell (and I quote), "A family of solutions that securely manages identity and access across physical, virtual and cloud environments." That was lucky wasn't it?
Well lucky indeed! So I put that point to Novell's EMEA president and GM one senor Javier Colado. Stopping short of using the "L" word itself, Colado did suggest that the company is in the right place at the right time and is probably secretly quite delighted to be able to address one of the major issues associated with corporate cloud deployments. Not a bad time of year to be knocking out a consistent, extensible platform for managing identities and juggling integrated role management and workflow then right?
Novell Identity Manager 4 is currently in beta from now through to July. The product family will be commercially available in Q3 2010.
There's tons more to report on here. In future I'd like to discuss Novell's personality as a company and the fact that they have not been bought by IBM, are tired of being asked when IBM will buy them and are instead forming some partnerships that I didn't actually know about.
Key among those partnerships is probably http://www.moreinterop.com/ - the uncommon bedfellows coalition of Microsoft and Novell focused on, you guessed it, interoperability. In a briefing on this I tried desperately to get the Microsoft spokesperson to say that he thought mixed cross platform environments were a good thing and he could see efficiencies in multi-flavoured systems. But he wouldn't. The closest he would come was, "We anticipate that environments will be mixed and that this is the reality of the marketplace." Oh well, I tried.
I haven't even touched on the other news from this week, which was the launch of SUSE Linux Enterprise 11 Service Pack 1 (SP1) and what that includes. I've also learnt something about Novell's approach to its developer community, how it works within the open contribution model (employees are free to contribute whatever they like without running it past Novell) - and how its service and maintenance agreements work, but these are all subjects in their own right.
As for me, I've sampled a few Dutch beers, eaten more Edam in 36 hours than I need to complete my quotient for the decade and found our Dutch, German and American hosts to be a good relaxed bunch without that cheesy IT product manager smile. Roll on 2011 and Dank je wel, Danke and Gee-Shucks Thanks!