Giving network managers a way to provide access, single sign-on and provisioning controls in cloud-computing environments got a boost today from both Novell and a much smaller competitor, start-up Symplified.

Novell said its Identity Manager 4.0 product, expected out in the third quarter, will be able to work with and Google Apps, as well as Microsoft SharePoint, and SAP applications to support a federated identity structure in the enterprise.

Symplified broke new ground with what it's calling Trust Cloud for EC2, software that provides access management, authentication, user provisioning and administration, single sign-on and usage auditing for enterprise applications running on the Amazon EC2 platform. It can be ordered through Symplified's Trust Cloud site and automatically deployed on the Amazon EC2 virtual machine instances that customers request under an arrangement with Amazon.

Out and available now, Trust Cloud for EC2, "is a big deal," says Burton Group senior analyst Ian Glazer, because it offers what promises to be the most comprehensive approach yet to exerting identity management controls over enterprise data running in Amazon's EC2 infrastructure-as-a-service data centers. "You can put controls into the EC2 environment, even make the data always flow the way you want."

Symplified, which also has other proxy-based products for integrating enterprise identity management functions with Google and applications, believes the central issue in tackling the security challenges in Amazon's EC2 environment is designing security for "multi-tenancy," says Eric Olden, Symplified CEO. "It's like an apartment complex."

Amazon's EC2 data centres, of which there are about 35 around the world, constitute a massive virtualised universe of primarily Xen hypervisor-based Linux-based machines, which Amazon refers to as the "Amazon machine image," or AMI, Olden says.

Like Google, and, Amazon supports the Security Assertion Markup Language (SAML) protocol, seen as a standard building block for identity management interoperability. But only about 5% of the estimated 2,200 service providers in the burgeoning cloud computing market appear to support SAML, Olden says, so Symplified also elected to support a variety of non-SAML-based protocols, such as those used at cloud-based recruiting and personnel management application provider Taleo, for example.

Analyst Glazer says cloud computing is having a profound effect on the vendors in the identity management arena, which spent years arguing and developing SAML, to find one of its most promising uses is not just in the fortress of the enterprise to control provisioning and other functions in corporate networks, but now also in the cloud.