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HP ventures into identity management

By entering this market, the company is going up against giants such as Microsoft and Sun, as well as several niche players.

Hewlett-Packard plans this week to announce an identity management add-on to its OpenView network administration system, a company executive told CNET

The OpenView Select Identity software, which is based on a product HP acquired when it purchased software maker TruLogica in March, allows administrators to manage users' access to network resources. When integrated with the company's OpenView Select Access product, the software will constitute HP's first offering in the identity management market.

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"Anyone can set up and administer a network of 30 people," said Tony Redmond, vice president and chief technology officer for HP Services. "But when you have thousands, you need tools to help you manage."

The release of the identity management product represents HP's foray into one of three security markets in which the company believes it can compete, Redmond said. In addition to identity management, the company has groups working on trusted-computing infrastructure, creating computers that use encryption to better secure data and improve defenses against online intruders.

The company also has invested in proactive security management technology, such as a digital immune system that tests computers connected to the network for susceptibility to the latest online threats.

HP's decision to enter the identity management market puts the technology giant in competition with several smaller companies and a few other giants, including Microsoft and Sun Microsystems.

Identity management software can bring dramatic cost savings for large companies relying on multiple operating systems. When these tools are in place on a network, each user only has to keep track of a single password, rather than a handful or a dozen. That simplification, as well as automation for password recovery, reduces the costs of help desk calls for forgotten passwords. The calls typically cost between $14 and $28 each, according to HP.

Additionally, for companies with a variety of systems and network resources, these tools simplify the job of security management, because they give the administrator a single view of each user. For instance, in a network that uses identity management, it's easier for an administrator to disable the accounts of an employee who is fired or leaves, Redmond said. The software also makes it easier to establish new employees' access to network resources, such as printers, reducing the amount of time they need to get up and running.

HP said the University of Colorado at Boulder is an early user of the technology. The product is available now, the company said.