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Novell targets Web services security

The company readies updates to its identity management server and Web services application development suite, part of a strategy to closely link both product lines.

Novell is integrating its identity management and Web services software in a way that it says will ease customers' ability to secure corporate networks.

The company on Wednesday released Nsure Identity Manager 2, an update to its server software for authenticating access to networks and managing user passwords. Next week, Novell is expected to release exteNd Suite 5, the latest edition of its Java-based server software and Web services development tools.

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Although the two remain separate products, Novell's plan is to steadily improve the integration between them. The company has created a single organization to develop both products, and sees a growing demand for tools to build Web services applications that depend on corporate-wide security systems, according to Novell executives.

"Everybody is trying to make Java tools easier for Java programmers. We want to make Web services and identity management accessible to mainstream business analysts and systems administrators," said Frank Auger, vice president of product management for Novell exteNd and Nsure products.

Nsure Identity Manager, formerly called Novell DirXML, is an identity management server that allows people to enter a name and password to connect into several corporate applications, such as Web portals, enterprise systems or e-mail systems.

A new release of the product, Nsure Identity Manager 2, improves the tools used by network administrators for managing and synchronizing passwords across different network directories. The update introduces a visual tool to establish company password policies for assigning access rights to applications.

Next week, Novell plans to release exteNd Suite 5, a consolidated package that includes its Java application server, integration software and portal. Novell gained the Java server suite and related development tools when it acquired toolmaker SilverStream in 2002.

The update of exteNd will introduce revamped Web services development tools, including wizards, or visual short cuts, for constructing front-end forms and connections between applications, according to company executives. The software can be used by professional Java developers, but the intent of the visual development tools is to appeal to people with limited programmer training, said Auger.

With the acquisition of SilverStream and the company's push into Linux, Novell is looking to build up a base of developers using its software. Novell acquired Linux distributor SuSE last November, and desktop Linux specialist Ximian last August.

While the company is emphasizing Linux in its future plans, network administrators remain a large portion of the company's customers, particularly for its networking software such as its NetWare operating system.

Novell's competitors, such as Sun Microsystems, Microsoft and IBM, are also combining identity management and application development. Late last year, BEA Systems and Oracle introduced security modules for their respective application servers.