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The latest about Active Directory

Sep 15, 20033 mins
Access ControlEnterprise Applications

* Wrapping up identity definitions, Active Directory in the news

I want to make one quick point about our discussions surrounding identity definitions before we move on to something new. In last month’s reference to the three tier taxonomy for identity as proposed by Ed Harrington, I identified Ed as (co-)chair of the Open Group’s Directory Interoperability Forum (DIF). I should have said, though, that Ed’s remarks to me were his personal beliefs and not in any way endorsed by DIF (although I’m sure he wouldn’t mind!).

I’d rather be in Ottawa right now (seriously, I would – stop that laughing!) because this week is NetPro’s Fall Directory Experts Conference (DEC) featuring everything you ever wanted to know about Active Directory.

For example, did you know that Active Directory was at least partially responsible for the spread of the Blaster worm? One supposedly tech savvy publication (it’s aimed at CIOs, and no, it’s not IDG’s magazine called “CIO”) outlined in boring detail that Blaster exploits a buffer overflow situation in RPCSS, which processes messages using the Remote Procedure Call protocol and is used by (among other things) Active Directory. Of course it’s also used by every other networked service and application, but they weren’t named. Hopefully Stuart Kwan (Microsoft Product Unit Manager for Active Directory) and his cohorts at DEC Fall will set the record straight before the CxOs of this world start blaming identity management for bringing down the network.

Speaking about the future of Web services programming – and specifically about Java and its development environment, J2EE – one Australian publication ( said “Microsoft’s .Net is gaining support with businesses that have made a large investment in Microsoft tools. In some cases, .Net’s close integration with Windows is an advantage that gives access to Active Directory and other features J2EE can’t match.” Evidently the publication isn’t familiar with the Java Naming Service (JNDI) with its LDAP interface to Active Directory, which even Microsoft is willing to talk about (

On the subject of Microsoft discussing Active Directory (not something it always seemed willing to do), the software giant last week prominently featured the directory services in presentations to launch Windows Storage Server 2003. WSS is an operating system for network-attached storage (NAS) devices that handle basic file and print services. At the launch, Microsoft noted that WSS “makes NAS management simple by taking advantage of existing Active Directory policies to centrally manage using Group Policy, Kerberos Authentication, and Encrypted File System.” I’m sure the folks who did go to Ottawa are hearing all about that.

Which brings us back to NetPro. There was an excellent story about the Phoenix company in the “Arizona Republic” newspaper a couple of weeks ago ( The article could make the basis of a good case study for small, entrepreneur-driven companies – and what to do when the bad times come, as surely they will. But there are also some interesting nuggets of gossip in the article – who knew (outside of Phoenix) that CEO Trish Gulbranson had a weakness for Corvettes? It’s not at all what you expect of a former bean counter.

If anything new, interesting or exiting does come out of DEC Fall, we’ll be talking about it in the next couple of weeks. If you’re one of the lucky ones who are in Ottawa this week, drop me a note with your impressions of the conference – what else is there to do in Ottawa at night?