Novell has released Identity Manager 3, an app which it claims will speed up password management by moving it away from the IT deparment.

"IT people are not the people who know who should have access to things," said product manager Ferris Argyle.

Version 3 automates the process of approving rights and gives business managers the ability to assign employee rights under them. As a balance, it includes tighter auditing features to track who makes what changes.

Analyst Mike Neuenschwander of Burton Group said: "Manually provisioning user accounts is time consuming and expensive, but more importantly a lack of automation results in inconsistently applied policy. A provisioning system introduces stronger auditability and reduces security and compliance risks."

Identity Manager competes with similar products from Sun and IBM and costs $75,000 per installation plus $25 per user. A provisioning module costs an additional $30,000 per installation and $10 per user.

Novell declined to say how many Identity Manager users it has today. When it released Version 2 of Identity Manager, previously known as DirXML, in January 2004, it said it had 1,400 customers.