Novell and Verizon have teamed up to offer cloud-based identity and access management to help companies outsource their applications to the cloud. The companies claim that the move will expedite cloud computing without compromising security.

Verizon provides the security expertise, infrastructure, management capabilities and portal for Secure Access Services. Novell's identity and security software offerings provide the technology to power the solution.

This identity-as-a-service offering is the first wave of cloud-based products that the two companies hope to deliver. The companies said that the service would particularly appeal to organisations who wished to automate access controls for their extended partner or supply chain networks.

The companies are looking to build on the growing interest in cloud computing, as more companies look to adopt the technology, although security is seen as a big inhibitor.

The new set of services covers five key areas: authentication, authorisation, reporting, single sign-on and identity federation.

Novell's director of business development, Mark Rogers highlighted identity federation as one of the key areas of the new alliance. "Identity federation means that secure information can be shared with trusted third parties, saving enterprises from having to do this themselves."

He said that to give an an example of how this would work in practice, consider the case of Novell and Verizon themselves. "As a result of this agreement, Novell sales reps and Verizon sales reps are working hand in hand. Using identity federation, they'll be able access to each other's confidential databases and allow each other use of that information, allowing them to solve problems on the fly. It's a similar to the way that WalMart treats their suppliers , they treat them all as a single system."

Verizon's senior strategist, Mark Shapiro said that the new offering would also help companies negotiate the plethora of standards. "While federation has been around for some time, there are a number of standards that are being supported. Will help with that: as a service provider, we can sit in the middle and translate what's required and deliver the information. "

The new product will initially be made available to US companies in June but Shapiro said that it would be offered in the UK. "We're not as well known over here as we are in the US, but the UK is an important market to us and we will be bringing it here."