Novell vows first identity management for cloud, virtualized apps

Eight new products, upgrades to aid with intelligent workload management

Virtualization and cloud computing has taken off, despite strong concerns lingering over how companies can secure and manage those apps and data.

Novell says it can help companies with both sides of the equation, accelerating the creation of virtualized and cloud apps with built-in security.

Over the next year, Novell plans to release eight new products or upgrades to aid in what it calls "intelligent workload management."

The upcoming Novell Identity Manager 4 will add the new ability for IT managers embed identity management and other security features into both Web-hosted and virtualized apps, Novell CEO Ron Hovsepian said in an interview last week.

Novell Identity Manager 4 will arrive by the middle of next year. That will work closely with Novell Cloud Security Service, also due in 2010, in order to extend identity and security policies onto apps and data hosted in the cloud.

These will work closely with a Novell's Suse Appliance Toolkit, which is due in the first quarter next year. The Toolkit helps ISVs and large enterprises quickly build and deploy virtualized appliances, i.e. self-contained apps prepackaged with a thin operating system layer that can be moved from server to cloud-based server without crash or conflict.

Hovsepian said customers are already starting to use Novell's existing generation of virtual appliance building tools in a major way.

"In the last three months, we've had 40,000 registered users come into our system and build 100,000 different virtualized appliances and workloads," Hovsepian said. The most popular is a DIY version of the Chrome OS built with Google 's browser running on Novell's OpenSUSE Linux. Hovsepian said that virtual appliance has been downloaded 750,000 times.

Novell is also upgrading its Platespin virtual management product so that users can use it as their single console for managing all of these workloads, whether they are run virtually or hosted in the cloud, Hovsepian said.

"We are way ahead of everyone else," he said.

Gerry Gebel, an analyst with the Burton Group, agreed, saying that other leading players in the identity management and security space, including CA, IBM and Oracle Inc., haven't laid out a comprehensive roadmap for virtualized and hosted management.

"This is pretty significant," he said. "It's the kind of capability that more advanced organizations with large virtual environments are going to need, as they continually stop, start, reactivate and archive workloads."

Companies who push forward on virtualization or cloud computing, or let their employees and departments do so, without setting up an identity management and security framework, are putting themselves in "real danger," Gebel said.

"You can't dismiss security and identity management just because the computing model is changing. It's no excuse," he said.

Gebel said Novell has the technical goods to back up its marketing push, citing a demonstration of the beta for Novell Identity Manager 4, which he said was "pretty impressive."

"The integration with the virtualization and cloud workloads looked like it was working well," he said.

Gordon Haff, an analyst with Illuminata, said it will be a challenge for Novell to make all of its tools work together elegantly.

"A lot of moving parts and the trick is to get everything glued together in a coherent way," Haff said. "I also don't see it as fundamentally different from what other vendors are doing, whether it is VMware, IBM, Citrix, or Microsoft ."

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