Centrify unlocks more value from Active Directory

* Centrify Corporation offers products to help you integrate your non-Windows devices and applications with Active Directory's management services

Has your company made a serious investment in Microsoft Active Directory? Are you looking to unlock more value from your implementation? Centrify Corporation offers products to help you integrate your non-Windows devices and applications with Active Directory's management services, helping you to better manage your heterogeneous computing environment.

Although Microsoft discussed plans in April to incorporate new capabilities into Active Directory, many customers feel they just can't wait for Microsoft to deliver on these promises. Centrify, meanwhile, today provides the cross-platform integration to give you better control over UNIX, Linux, VMware and Mac systems, as well as storage and network components.

Centrify is a 2-year-old company founded by Tom Kemp, who earned his network management stripes as the founder of NetIQ. Other senior executives brought a wealth of network management experience as they came from NetIQ, Microsoft, Legato, Novell, CA and Netscape.

Kemp saw the opportunity to capitalize on the great growth of Active Directory by filling in the gaps for non-Windows devices. "Today, Active Directory is ubiquitous and critically important to many organizations," says Kemp. "Gartner Group has made a prediction that by 2010, 90% of all businesses will use Active Directory. Microsoft has chosen only to support devices in a native Microsoft environment, which leaves a lot of opportunity on the table for us. For example, Centrify supports more than 60 versions of Linux, UNIX and other operating systems."

Centrify's main product is a suite called DirectControl. Using agent software, DirectControl turns a non-Windows host system (Linux, UNIX, etc.) into an Active Directory client, which enables you to use the same authentication, access control and Group Policy services currently deployed for your Windows systems.

DirectControl Suite 1, released in March 2005, provided operating system security for the non-Windows devices. DirectControl Suite 2, released last August, added the ability to manage these devices using Microsoft Group Policy. The April 2006 release of DirectControl Suite 3 added support for Active Directory Federation Services (ADFS) and Windows Server 2003 R2.

One of the unique features of the Centrify management solution is its patent-pending Zone technology. Active Directory uses Domains to determine who has access to what resources. Similar to but more granular than Domains, Centrify Zones determine what users and computers have access privileges. This allows the administrator to give very specific privilege assignments according to business needs, perhaps by department or job level. Zones are managed centrally using Active Directory, not locally at all the disparate systems. What's more, Zones better enable you to meet the compliance requirements of Sarbanes-Oxley, HIPAA, and other government and industry regulations that require verifiable controls over access to systems with critical business information.

Looking to expand your world of trust beyond corporate boundaries to business partners? Perhaps the Centrify ADFS extensions are just what you need. Microsoft ADFS lets users share authentication data across corporate boundaries. DirectControl 3 extends ADFS to intranet and extranet applications running on Apache and J2EE application servers. In addition to this federated identity solution, DirectControl 3 delivers integrated Kerberos/LDAP-based authentication for the same platforms. This yields a secure single-sign on for Web applications.

If your organization has decided that Active Directory is a strategic technology to manage your IT platforms, you need to see what benefits you can find with the various extensions offered by Centrify. Get a list of supported operating systems, application servers and infrastructure applications here.

My fellow Network World columnist Dave Kearns has written a few good articles on this topic. Please see Dave's 2/14/05 article "Identify, simplify, Centrify" as well as his 7/18/05 article "Centrify, Vintella pledge support for AD Federation Services."

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