The shine is off directories 10 years later

* Oh how things have changed in a decade

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Ten years ago this week we launched the newsletter which, over time, became the one you're reading today. But back in September of 1999, "identity management" wasn't a phrase known to many people. So what Network World launched was called "Fusion Focus on Directory Services."

<aside>In those days the Network World's Web site was called "Network World Fusion" and all the newsletters – I think there were 10 – were called "Fusion Focus on" some topic.</aside>

It had taken me well over a year to get Network World to agree to this newsletter (I was already writing one called "Focus on Windows NT") but, as I said in that first one: "With Microsoft ready to launch Active Directory in Windows 2000 and Novell soon to release Version 8 of Novell Directory Services, many vendors are jumping on the directory bandwagon. In this newsletter, we hope to be able to winnow the wheat from the chaff and point you towards the major milestones on the road to the directory-centric network."

Now, 10 years later, the directory is only a small part of the IdM landscape, albeit a very necessary part – in the usual plumbing analogy where the applications and services are the fixtures and taps, various protocols are the pipes but it all starts out at the directory, the water treatment plant (or the well) in this analogy.

Directories don't get headline billing here much anymore (for example "Pimp My Directory,") but not because they aren't important rather because they're now considered low-level infrastructure and the glamour is gone. It's hard now to remember (and not just because I'm that much older) how hard fought the “directory wars” of the late 90s really were.

Going forward I'll take a look back 10 years from time to time to see what we were interested in back then. In mid-September of that year I was really pleased to announce "the formation of the Directory Services Markup Language (DSML) working group" which eventually was merged into OASIS and completed it's work in 2002. I thought, at the time, that: "The organization hopes to standardize DSML, which could be bigger than Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP)." I was wrong.

It wasn't the first, nor the last, time I was overly enthusiastic about something that never came to pass. Remember that, on the Internet, your mistakes live on forever!

Late in the month, though, came a newsletter headlined "New tool deploys IT resources to newly hired and moving employees quickly" – the first look at electronic provisioning, the "killer app" for identity management and the real start of the identity explosion which we're still trying to control and contain to this day. Sometimes I did get it right!

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