Directories in the news
IBM, Critical Path
After years in the wilderness, it seems that the time is ripe for an interest in directory technology. There is no doubt that the rise of Internet and web services technologies is contributing to this. Now it seems to be the 'must have' infrastructure, and IBM and Critical Path are pushing out new initiatives.
The important move is IBM's acquisition of Metamerge. This is a metadirectory solution that enables the integration of multiple individual directories into a single managed view. This is almost mandatory nowadays because, even though most packaged products come with an LDAP-enabled directory for user and resource controls, the information held in directories is rarely shared with other business applications.
Metamerge is a Norwegian business that has developed extensive experience of the use of directories in business integration projects. This is what IBM has bought into as it looks to enhance its web services position. It already has directory technology that is used within Tivoli and other product ranges. The metadirectory will bring another layer of integration across its four major ranges - Tivoli, WebSphere, DB2, Lotus.
Web services initiatives are also making demands of directory technology and this is where the Critical Path announcement comes into the picture. Its new releases of CP Directory 4.1 and CP Meta-Directory Server 3.3 are designed to create a unified fault tolerant environment that will support web services solutions. This is aimed specifically at the problem of single sign-on and user provisioning within large-scale web services environments.
Directory technology is big news right now. All of the big names in web services are realising that they need it to deliver on the evolving standards but they are also finding that it provides useful spin-off opportunities in the areas of management and control of the IT environment.
It's not enough on its own, however, to have a single central view of the IT infrastructure. Things don't work that way and most businesses end up with a variety of different directories associated with various parts of the overall solution. To solve this, there is a need for metadirectories that will allow data to be synchronised and managed across the whole lot. Metadirectory will allow a record to be changed in one location and be propagated across all other instances to create a consistent view of the information.
This is the reason why those that have directory technology are now looking beyond to the metadirectory concept - a concept that will become the norm before too long and will force us to drop the 'meta' tag.