Not much has changed on the directory front

The 'metadirectory vs. virtual directory' war of 10 years ago still lives on

Ten years ago this month directories were all the rage in this newsletter. Well, it was called the Directory Services newsletter.

I introduced many of my readers to IBM's directory offering, then called "SecureWay" but now known simply as IBM Directory Server. I noted that "IBM was an early entrant in Directory Services with its DSS for OS/2." Microsoft, IBM's partner in OS/2, evidently didn't see the benefit of directory services at the time of the OS/2 launch (early 1990s). It later had to scramble to put together Active Directory for the launch of Windows Server 2000.

At the same time Microsoft was getting ready to launch Active Directory, a more venerable competitor disappeared from the market. Banyan abruptly ceased operations on their VINES LAN system, effectively ending the reign of StreetTalk, the granddaddy of all local directories, which had been around since the mid '80s. Banyan went on to reinvent itself as ePresence (a consulting company), which was dissolved in 2003 when its remaining assets were acquired by Unisys.

One topic on everybody's mind in November 1999 (well, everybody involved with directories) was the "metadirectory vs. virtual directory" war -- one we're still fighting it seems (see "Is the metadirectory dead?). Network World even put together a "virtual debate" on the issue. Then CEO of Entevo (it would shortly afterward by acquired by Bindview, which was acquired by Symantec) Amir Hudda wrote a piece promoting the virtual directory point of view. In opposition was Ian Goldsmith, the then Director of Product Management at ISOCOR (later acquired by Critical Path). His piece can be read here. What's really interesting is that the arguments used in these articles (both real and spurious) are the same ones we hear today. Evidently there really is nothing new under the sun.

Speaking of Sun, it can't be very good news to their IdM customers that the European Union is holding up Sun's acquisition by Oracle. Knowing Larry Ellison, he could easily have a change of mind and leave them in the lurch. We'll continue to follow that story -- and hope it doesn't drag on for 10 years.

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