10 years ago: Standards in the spotlight

* Some standards such as LDAP still exist, while others such as DSML have disappeared

We were listening to Christina Aguilera's "What a Girl Wants" (or maybe, Marc Anthony's "I Need To Know"). It was January 2000. A month mistakenly thought of as the beginning of the 21st century. And we were all very happy that the gloom and doom predictions for the Y2K bug had proven, mostly, to be false. But what was the hot news in identity management?

This newsletter was still the "Directory Services" newsletter, and the immanent release of Windows Server 2000, with Active Directory, took up much of the discussion, especially issues around migrating from Windows NT. But Novell's directory also made some news with a new release of eDirectory (Version 5.1, called "NDS eDirectory"), which featured the new "NetWare Management Portal", supposedly more secure for remote management of servers. January 2000 also saw the release of Novell Modular Authentication Services (NMAS), the first release of a major authentication product that allowed plug-in modules and featured multiple authentication methods (passwords, biometrics, tokens and so on).

The evolution of Microsoft Windows

The other things we were focused on 10 years ago this month were standards. Among the things mentioned were:

* Directory Enabled Networks (DEN) -- part of the Common Information Model of the Distributed Management Task Force (DMTF). A new book on DEN was released that January. The DMTF is still around, but the last DEN Schema update was in 2002.

* PKI Forum -- A new organization was announced by a number of leading Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) vendors (Baltimore Technologies, Entrust Technologies, IBM, Microsoft and RSA Security). The PKI Forum was supposed to "provide an opportunity for vendors to demonstrate support for standards-based, interoperable PKI by developing PKI interoperability profiles based on business-driven requirements in certificate interoperability, directory-PKI interoperability, application interoperability, certificate validation and other areas." The Open Group supported the PKI forum through its first year. The Web site pkiforum.org still exists. But the forum itself is no longer extent.

* Directory Services Markup Language -- The DSML organization added mission-critical software as the first non-charter member. The charter members included Bowstreet, Novell, Microsoft, IBM, Sun, Oracle and Netscape. "DSML will play a major role in the use of directories in the near future, and then for quite some time to come." Sadly, DSML v.2, a mapping of the LDAP protocol into XML, was the only work to come out of this group.

Standards, and standards bodies, are ephemeral. Some odd ones (LDAP, which was really a "quick and dirty" approach to x.500 directories) last seemingly forever while those which appear to show great promise (e.g., DSML) flash momentarily then sink below the horizon. Who would have thought, at the time, that 10 years hence we'd still have Marc Anthony while DSML was but a flickering memory?

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