It's always nice, I guess, when two old friends take an informal relationship and make it permanent. That's what happened last week when Quest Software announced the acquisition of virtual directory vendor Symlabs.
We've followed both companies here almost since the first issue of the newsletter -- Quest has been involved in data management since last century while Symlabs burst on the scene in 2001, although their first mention wasn't until 2004 when I met with the founders ("a German, a Finn and a Spaniard and headquartered in Lisbon") at the Catalyst conference (see "Catching up with four ID mgmt. vendors at Catalyst"). At that time, their main offering was Directory Extender, described as "a virtual directory, LDAP proxy and LDAP gateway all in one."
Over the years, Symlabs came to be known as the leaner, faster virtual directory company -- one which attracted a number of collaborators in the IdM/IAM space who needed virtualization but didn't necessarily want to "roll their own."
One of the biggest users of Symlabs' Virtual Directory Server was, in fact, Quest. The acquisition led Quest Product Management VP Jackson Shaw to note: "Quest has been an OEM customer of the Symlabs virtual directory product for some time now. It was actually this exercise that started me to think about how customers -- including Quest -- weren't really deploying a virtual directory (VDS) for the sake of having a virtual directory. Customers are deploying a VDS to solve very particular problems like easing the integration of identity data and systems into an existing identity management project or allowing directory-enabled applications to be kept in place despite the fact that the underlying directory was being re-architected or migrated."
That's why Quest was using the product, and what we've been saying about Virtual Directory products for many years. As I remember, it was also one of the reasons given when Oracle acquired OctetString some years ago.
It's not clear at this point if Quest will continue selling the Symlabs VDS as a separate product, or simply roll it into the various IdM products the company already offers. Still, there are other possibilities for folks who want to acquire their own VDS and create home-grown services and applications around it. We'll talk about them next time.