CrossNodes Product Briefing: Directory-Enabled Services

Despite a lack of universal acceptance of Directory-Enabled Networking technologies, the battle for directoiry services is heating up between arch-rivals Novell, Microsoft, and Sun. Here you will learn the differences between each offering, and if/when we can expect to see DEN become a core part of the enterprise. Each CrossNodes Product Briefing provides an overview of what you need to know before purchasing a specific technology, and include round-up listings of current products from each of the major vendors.

By Dayna Delmonico | Posted Oct 15, 2001
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It's been a long slow road for directories. Though few doubt that there's a future for directory-enabled services, the scheme hasn't quite caught on yet. But rest assured: The battle for directory services between arch-rivals Novell, Microsoft, and Sun (with Netscape) is heating up.

Directory services provide a consistent way to name, describe, locate, access, manage and even secure information about network resources. A directory service can act as the brain of the Network Operating System (NOS), basically managing and brokering relationships between identities and resources. Because a directory service can supply these NOS functions, it is tightly integrated with the security and management of the operating system.

Novell's NDS eDirectory, Microsoft's Active Directory (AD), and iPlanet's Directory Server are the major players. Earlier this year Sun announced its Sun Open Net Environment (Sun ONE) initiative, a framework for developers to create and deploy Web services. Part of Sun ONE is iPlanet's Directory Server 5.0 for the Sun ONE environment. Shortly thereafter, Novell announced it was giving away NDS eDirectory software to developers, independent software vendors (ISVs) and OEMs. These were salvos aimed at deployments of Windows 2000 for which Microsoft's Active Directory is an central component.

Up for grabs is the enterprise, which means the ever-important Fortune 500 install base, and the Internet of course. Along with companion products, all espouse an "open" environment perfect for all your E-business and B-toB-needs.

Just when it seemed like the directories paradigm was finally coming into its own, corporate priorities for IT changed -- at least for the moment -- mostly as a result of the events of September 11. Though there are no absolutes in economics or psychology, technology research firm, Cahners In-Stat Group, has come to some basic conclusions about the short-term, medium-term and long-term outlook of U.S. e-Business trends at which directory services have been aimed.

For the next six months, In-Stat believes there is a strong chance that U.S. businesses will put the brakes on short-term high-tech spending. However, the need for better data security and protection is undeniable.

As for the impact on corporate networks, spending on network equipment is likely to slow considerably, as spending on newer, more experimental technologies (wireless LANs, LAN telephony) and major upgrades (Gigabit Ethernet) will see the biggest hits. Spending on priorities will focus primarily on mission critical areas, with "performance enhancing" upgrades taking a back seat. There will likely be a near-term shoring up of defenses with spending increases on network security technology such as firewalls, authentication and VPNs.

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