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Is the metadirectory dead?

Have metadirectories lost their appeal?

Security Identity Management Alert By Dave Kearns, Network World
March 10, 2008 12:08 AM ET
Kearns
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Last week's Directory Experts Conference had eight vendor sponsors - and two of those were virtual directory companies! One was the grand-daddy of virtual directory vendors, Radiant Logic while the other was the "new kid on the block," Optimal IdM. Veteran readers of this newsletter should be very familiar with Radiant Logic and its offerings but this is Optimal's first visit to these august pages so let's look a little closer at its products.

The “gimmick” or hook for Optimal’s Virtual Identity Server (VIS) is that the product is "a Microsoft centric virtual directory that was developed entirely in .Net managed code,” according to Optimal's marketing materials. Whether or not you see that as a good or a bad point will depend on what your environment is like (all or mostly Microsoft products, for example) and what you think of .Net programming.

The one thing that gave Optimal an opening to become the only all-Microsoft virtual directory is the fact that Redmond has ignored this technology in favor of metadirectory technology - Microsoft Metadirectory Service (MMS), which later became Microsoft Identity Integration Server (MIIS) and which is now a part of the Microsoft Identity Lifecycle Management Server (ILM). All of these derived from Zoomit’s VIA, which was acquired by Microsoft back in 1999. Even though I’ve consistently stated that Virtual Directory Services (VDS) were a necessary part of an identity management stack, Microsoft has chosen to try to build a stack with only a metadirectory.

But now someone else has spoken up: “Let's be honest. The metadirectory is dead. Approaches that look like a metadirectory are dead.” That’s a quote from Quest’s Jackson Shaw. Formerly Microsoft’s Jackson Shaw. Formerly Zoomit’s Jackson Shaw. This is a guy who was deeply involved in metadirectory technology for more than a dozen years. I can only hope that Microsoft is listening. In the meantime, consider Optimal’s VIS for your all-Microsoft enterprise, or Radiant Logic for your heterogeneous organization. And remember that Symlabs and Oracle are also very active in this area. And there’s the Penrose Project if open source is your gig.

Upcoming events from the IdM Journal calendar:

* May 12-15: CTST 2008 (formerly CardTech SecurTech), Orlando.
* May 12-14: Internet Identity Workshop, Mountain View, Calif.
* June 7-8: Identitycamp Bremen, Bremen, Germany.

Read more about security in Network World's Security section.

Dave Kearns is a consultant and editor of IdM, the Journal of Identity Management.

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