It was more than 10 years ago that Microsoft began talking about Active Directory - but only it seemed in the context of access to the server and network. Initially, Exchange, SQLServer and other applications and services would maintain their own authentication mechanisms. It was only much later - within the past 5 years - that Active Directory came to dominate Microsoft's vision of identity management.New, supplemental tools such as ADAM (Active Directory, Application Mode) and MIIS (Microsoft Identity Integration Server) have brought Active Directory and Microsoft to the brink of full-blown identity management. Some third parties (well, many third parties) have used these identity tools as part of their solutions - but usually as one choice in a list of possibilities (eDirectory, iPlanet, OpenLDAP, etc.). BMC has now taken the next step.The geeks at BMC took a look at Microsoft's .Net technology and realized that it really could provide "...the ability to quickly build, deploy, manage, and use connected, security-enhanced solutions with Web services," just as Microsoft describes it.BMC realized that it could leverage the Microsoft infrastructure of identity and provide those identity management services with a minimum of "new plumbing" having to be installed. As a concomitant benefit, this should lower the total cost of ownership, thus lowering the entry bar, for small and midsize businesses. And just like large enterprises, these SMBs need to comply with regulations (HIPAA, Sarbanes-Oxley, etc.) but they need to do so without bankrupting themselves.Thus was born BMC Identity Management for .Net, which offers customers operating a .Net environment streamlined end-to-end identity management which BMC hopes addresses many of IT's most pressing identity management needs including workflow, directory management, audit, self service, password management, Web single sign-on and federation.By exploiting tools and resources already available in the Microsoft infrastructure, BMC hopes Identity Management for .Net will attract customers with sizeable cost, time and resource savings.In chatting with Somesh Singh, vice president and general manager of BMC's Identity Management Business Unit, he wanted to emphasize that this was a way to provide top-grade identity management at an SMB-affordable price. But he also wanted to make it clear that this was no packaged, one-size-fits-all, solution.Most SMBs, who lack dedicated IT resources, would need to have their network service providers and outside consultants do the "heavy lifting" for them. These consultants would be the ones trained in using BMC Identity Management for .Net and who would do the actual installations and configurations. But because the major pieces of the identity plumbing were already in place, it should still be less expensive than more generalized (i.e., working with multiple technologies) identity management vendor solutions.BMC is holding a Webinar on Thursday, Feb. 9, that'll take a long, thorough online look at BMC Identity Management for .Net, but you need to register right now if you want to take part. If your business is providing services to the SMB market, it might be very much worth your while to participate.