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Novell IDs a Web Services Strategy

At the Catalyst Conference in July, Novell detailed its directory services road map for the next 18 months and announced several products it hopes will thrust the vendor into the Web services arena as a Liberty Alliance player. Novell is doing the right thing. It's concentrating on leveraging its strengths in authentication and identity management while addressing what could become a burgeoning IT need.

One key to successfully deploying Web services applications on a large scale is the implementation of a manageable, reliable, interoperable authentication and identity-management system that doesn't force the user to reauthenticate as he or she moves from one online merchant to another. This is what Novell is proposing along with fellow Liberty Alliance partners Communicator, Entrust, NeuStar, OneName Corp., RSA Security and Sun Microsystems; all have announced products that support the Liberty Alliance 1.0 spec.

Novell's identity-management product, code-named Saturn and promised by year's end, will enable single sign-on between Liberty-compliant Web sites. Users will control which sites can store and share their identity information. Novell's Destiny is an 18-month directory services road map that will equip Novell's eDirectory with the ability to serve as a Liberty repository for identities, roles and Web services specifications via UDDI and authentication material, such as a password or biometric input device.

Still, Novell must do more than add to the mountain of "vision" it has amassed over the past few years. It must deliver, and fast -- at least within 18 months. There's reason to doubt Novell's ability to do so. Its recent history includes significant layoffs and product releases that happened either too early before the products were fully baked or too late. Sun and Microsoft own the buzz surrounding Web services; Novell has to be better than good to steal some of their thunder.
--Ron Anderson, [email protected]