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World bar MS unites on directory interop

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It's hardly a surprise that when Data Connection, IBM, ISOCOR, Lotus, Novell and Oracle decide to get together in the Directory Interoperability Forum to ensure that their directory services interoperate, Microsoft is not sitting at the table. Cynics would say that could be because Microsoft has not got a directory that works, and that its revised late entrant expected in Windows 2000 is unlikely to spur any significant company to trust it at least until the third iteration. Some also remember the promise of an object-oriented directory service for Cairo that was supposed to be delivered some years back, but was quietly shelved. According to a Forrester study, Fortune 500 companies typically have a large number of directories (190 in one case), so that it is very much in the interest of the various vendors to ensure directory interoperability. The standard is already in place - the Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP) - and Forum members have tested IBM's SecureWay, Novell's NDS, Lotus' Domino Directory and Netscape's Directory for interoperation. So far as applications are concerned, successful testing of IBM WebSphere and BluePages, Lotus Notes, Novell GroupWise and NetPublisher, and Tivoli Management products has occurred. Members will be on more than nodding terms with IETF, and the Open Group. Allen Brown, the acting President of TOG after the unlamented departure of Joseph De Feo, was a trifle arrogant when he said that TOG was "very pleased to have the input of directory leaders to work with us ...". Since TOG sacked many of its technical staff and was a shameful custodian of some important standards, it has still to perform its act of contrition before it can hold its head up again. Its role will apparently be to act as a facilitator for standards work, in conjunction with the IETF. The Forum already has support from some of the big guys like AT&T, Cisco and Lucent, as well as high-profile vendors like Citrix and Red Hat. The main interest of the Forum is to keep directory standards open, and to encourage ISVs to write to open standards. So far there's been no response from Microsoft. The main winner is likely to be Novell, since DIF provides additional insurance against any non-standards steam-rollering of NT in the immediate future. CEO Eric Schmidt has been jumping for joy recently at NetWare 5 sales running far ahead of predictions - and the share price certainly reflects this, having nearly reached $30 for the first time since the early 1990s. But don't discount some unexpected move from Microsoft - remember the techno-sabotage of Java? It could happen to LDAP-compliant directories too. (NB Those issues with Win2k and NDS for NT, mentioned in passing by Jim Allchin earlier this year, remain - Ed) ®

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