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Microsoft, Novell partnership yields identity technology

Novell unveiled support for a federation protocol in its identity software that represents the first fruits of its 18-month-old interoperability lab work with Microsoft as it relates to access management.

Novell released version 3.1 of its Access Manager with support for the WS-Federation protocol that is prominent in Microsoft's Active Directory Federation Services and its forthcoming Geneva identity platform for the cloud.

With WS-Federation support, Access Manager offers integration with SharePoint Server, CardSpace and Microsoft's claims-based authentication model. Access Manager now can provide non-Active Directory users with single sign-on to Windows-based Web applications.

“Now as a SharePoint administrator I don't have to synch with lots of different [identity] sources,” says Lee Howarth, product manger for identity at Novell. “I can map to claims in SharePoint and provide access to a large community of users out there.”

The claims processed via Access Manager also can include authorization information, and Access Manager can service users on both sides of the firewall.

In addition, Access Manager supports managed and self-issued cards via Microsoft CardSpace technology.

Novell also has implemented pieces of its own Bandit project that can move across platforms.

Microsoft and Novell swung open the doors of its interoperability lab in September 2007 as part of a five-year technology partnership signed in 2006. The two said at the outset of the partnership that the identity federation project would focus on ensuring that access rights can interoperate between Microsoft's Active Directory and Novell's eDirectory.

The pair said the work would hinge on the WS-Federation Web services protocol, Microsoft's Infocard/CardSpace technology, the Higgins project and Novell's Bandit project.

With Access Manager 3.1, Novell also has simplified the management of the server, improved the administration interface, upgraded policy delegation and added an API for integrating it with a database, enhanced security and added desktop cleanup features such as secure folders that automatically shred after an SSL VPN session is closed.

Novell also plans to add in the next three months cross-platform support for the gateway component of Access Manager. Today the gateway is a Linux-based appliance. The coming enhancements will support the gateway code on existing Linux or Windows boxes.

Access Manager pricing starts at $10 per user.

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