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Expanding roles for identity management

As applications and users multiply, companies are turning to ID management software to improve access to applications, password management and the provisioning of resources.

September 29, 2003 12:00 PM ET

Computerworld - Southwest Airlines Co. has just implemented software that allows hundreds of its engineers and mechanics to access proprietary information from its aircraft supplier's systems, using a single Web sign-on.
By year's end, Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. will have in place a technology for automatically creating, modifying and deleting user accounts across the company in a fraction of the time it takes to do the same task manually.
In August, Sharp Healthcare Inc. rolled out software for secure self-service password reset and password synchronization across its major IT systems.
Those are examples of the kinds of projects that companies are undertaking to streamline access to applications and reduce the costs associated with managing enterprise identity information.
And there are other impetuses for such projects, says Deepak Taneja, chief technology officer at Netegrity Inc., a Waltham, Mass.-based vendor of ID management products. "In some cases, the business driver is cutting costs. In some cases, it is enhancing revenue. In others, it may be managing risk and regulatory compliance," Taneja says.
Identity management efforts focus on controlled access to information for employees, customers or business partners. Most ID management projects fall into one of three categories: Web access control, user account provisioning or password management.

  • Web access control efforts typically deal with managing identities to authenticate and authorize users to multiple Web applications using a single sign-on. The growth in e-commerce, business-to-business and Web services initiatives has driven companies to provide secure access to Web applications for business partners, customers and employees.

  • User provisioning initiatives, meanwhile, deal with the manner in which identity information is used to create or revoke individual user accounts on an enterprise network. Account-provisioning tools allow companies to accomplish both tasks far more quickly, securely and cheaply than manual processes allow.

  • Password management efforts are spurred largely by the need for companies to lower some of the administrative costs associated with managing identities. They enable self-service password management and synchronization, delegated administration of passwords and enforcement of consistent password policies for multiple applications.

User and App Explosion
"There has been a significant increase in the number of users accessing applications and network resources," leading to demand for ID management technologies, says John Worral, a vice president at RSA Security Inc. in Bedford, Mass.
The growth of e-commerce and business-to-business applications and the trend toward Web services have opened up enterprise applications to a wider range of internal and external users than ever before, says Giuseppe Cimmino, director of corporate technology at Discovery Communications Inc. in New York.
Consequently, there is a need for tools that can help companies centrally track and

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