In an attempt to provide increased security over cloud-based applications, especially in-house ones, Novell and Verizon have teamed up to provide Secure Access Services from Verizon, or what the companies are calling "identity as a service." Features include single sign-on, giving users access to multiple Web-based authorized resources with a single authentication, and federated identity, meaning users could get access to an application from an organization other than their own. The service is particularly aimed at large enterprises with more than 500 users and multiple departments, business units, and partners, or with high employee turnover - particularly in highly regulated industries such as government, health-care and finance.
"We're seeing from our customers that larger companies with multiple departments and business units, and separate access control mechanisms, want to tie them together,"says Mark Shapiro, senior strategist for identity access management at Verizon. "Through federated identity, you can do SSO across departments and applications." Cloud application development is still in its infancy, so it's difficult to tell how much of an issue unauthorized use actually is thus far, says Amy DeCarlo, principal analyst for security and data center services at Current Analysis. "At least, it's a perception problem," she says. The service "would reassure companies that they have an extra level of security."
The service would be particularly well suited for enterprise applications or applications that are running behind a firewall, DeCarlo says. "You would hope or expect that with most SaaS, that capability would be built in. This is an additional level of security for enterprise applications." The service is different from a virtual private network because VPNs can be tricky with applications hosted at a third-party location, or applications based on quasi-proprietary data stores such as Microsoft Active Directory.
Outsourcing identity management gives companies the opportunity to fund it as an operational expense, rather than having to make capital expenditures to invest in the kind of equipment required to do it in-house. "Our customers are asking for a managed solution because of capex restraints," says Mark Rogers, director of business development for security, management, and operating platforms at Novell. "Opex could handle a managed service." "They understand that identity management is a critical need for them, but they don't have the budget," Shaprio adds.
While both Novell and Verizon are free to partner with other companies, representatives indicate that they don't expect to do so. "It's not closed from either a Novell or Verizon viewpoint," Shapiro says. "But we've picked our horse in this race." The service is expected to be available in June in a price range of from $3 to $5 per month per user in a tiered structure, plus a flat initial setup fee in the low five-figure range.
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