To that end, Novell has unveiled its Identity Manager 4 software, adding integration with Microsoft SharePoint and multiple cloud applications, including Salesforce.com and Google Apps, as well as better scalability with SAP.
The software is currently in beta, with about 40 large users testing it, said Novell. It expects to release the software commercially by September.
"The emergence of virtual and cloud-driven business models has created new challenges around identity and access management," said Novell CEO Ron Hovsepian, in a statement. "CIOs need a consistent, extensible platform for managing identities inside and outside the walls of their enterprise -- or their cloud strategy will fail."
Identity Manager 4 also includes better workflow management tools, built-in reporting, data cleansing and policy framework design tools. Meanwhile, a new, advanced edition, aimed at large enterprises and service providers, offers more sophisticated workflow, role management and reporting capabilities.
According to Sally Hudson, a research director at IDC who focuses on identity and access management products, "what I really liked [in the new version of Identity Manager] was the automated role provisioning, because -- I don't want to pick on anyone in particular -- many companies lay claim to being able to do this, but many times it requires dropping down and doing manual- or custom-coding work."
Automation, she said, is key to effective identity management. "Automation helps people meet compliance regulations; that's essential. And the more you automate, the more you reduce errors."
Identity Manager's connectivity with the likes of Salesforce.com, Google, and SAP underscores behind-the-scenes work by Novell and these organizations to connect their software. "These companies are building ecosystems, so they can succeed," said Hudson. "The whole model of cloud computing, virtualization, and intelligent workforce management is all good. But you have to get the connectivity piece down first, and you must get the security aspect down too, or else it will collapse like a house of cards."
In the identity management space, Novell competes with IBM, CA, and Oracle, and increasingly, also RSA.