Novell Launches eDirectory 8.7 – And It’s Free For iPlanet Directory Users


Novell today launched eDirectory 8.7, a new version of its LDAP
metadirectory that adds a new utility called iManager, along with the
ability to delegate administrative tasks. To help grab market share from
the competing Sun ONE iPlanet Directory Server, Novell is offering
eDirectory 8.7 free of charge to existing iPlanet users.


Also with 8.7, IBM’s AIX joins a roster of supported platforms that already
included NetWare, Solaris, Windows NT/2000, and Linux.


The browser-based iManager offers “full parity” with ConsoleOne, a previous
administrative utility that required a client application, according to
Wendy Steinle, Novell’s marketing manager for eDirectory. The iManager tool
can be accessed from both standard Web browsers and an assortment of
handheld devices.


8.7 also features “role-based administration,” a new capability for
delegating out various management tasks. “Before, it was ‘all or nothing,'”
Steinle contended.


“Now, you can delegate e-mail tasks to an e-mail administrator, for
example, or you can delegate resetting of passwords to the help desk. It
isn’t necessary to understand the ins-and-outs of directory trees just to
do password resetting. You can also delegate by geographic area, so that an
administrator in, say, Atlanta can’t effect changes at any other site.”


User will delegate to help desk

Troy Aswege, assistant VP of information services for a North Dakota
insurance firm, predicted that iManage and role-based administration will
suit his company’s needs quite well.


“Web-based administration is in line with our strategy, anyway,” said
Aswege, who works for Noridian Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota.


About a year ago, Noridian started using eDirectory in a series of new Webbased
applications for constituencies like customers and providers.


“It’ll also be good to be able to delegate some, but not all, of the
administrative tasks to our help desk. We’d rather that they don’t have
full access,” Aswege said.


Another new capability in 8.7, live backup, is geared to business
continuity and disaster recovery, according to Steinle.


More than 70 percent of companies with over 1,000 desktops will start using
metadirectories by 2005, according to research from GartnerGroup.


Support for Nsure

Aside from acting as a metadirectory with single sign-on, Novell’s
eDirectory supports a bevy of Novell management applications – including
iChain and DirXML, for example – rebranded in October under Novell’s new
nSure lineup. Through dirXML, eDirectory also supports other vendors’ LDAP
directories.


As eDirectory’s main rivals, Steinle pointed to iPlanet, Microsoft’s
ActiveDirectory, and IBM’s SecureWay directory.


Novell: eDirectory is ‘crossplatform, scalable, unified’

ActiveDirectory, though, is still “Microsoft-centric,” according to
Steinle. Novell is positioning eDirectory as “more scalable” than iPlanet,
and “more unified” than the IBM directory. Earlier this year, IBM acquired
Metamerge, a Norwegian-based company specializing in directory integration.


Novell’s decision to add AIX as an eDirectory platform was “customerdriven,”
and was not directly related to competition from the IBM SecureWay
directory, said a Novell spokesperson.


Aswege’s insurance firm won’t need AIX. Noridian’s emerging Web-based
applications run on Windows NT, however.


“I’d say we’re running in crossplatform mode. The NT apps make calls back
and forth to iChain, which is operating on NetWare,” according to Aswege.


Noridian adopted eDirectory upon choosing iChain as the authentication
product for the first of its new Web-based applications. “The two went hand
in hand,” he observed. A long-time Novell shop, Noridian also found iChain
relatively easy to set up and use.


Noridian builds on NetWare management

“We were looking for a secure way of authenticating the user IDs of our
customers. My staff was already familiar with the concept of NetWare
administration, so we could build on that base. Some of the other ‘Blues’
are using tools that require more overhead. But we’re not a big shop, and
we don’t have a lot of resources,” he said.


Aswege maintained that Noridian has experienced “no issues” with the
performance of Novell products.


Noridian is now planning to revamp an older application that lets insurance
providers check on claims status and eligibility, for instance. In the new
app, iChain will replace an authentication product from another vendor.


Sun One deal

Under Novell’s new Sun One promotion, current iPlanet customers can receive
the following free of charge: 250,000 user licenses for Novell eDirectory
8.7 plus 25,000 user licenses of Novell DirXML Driver for LDAP.


Standard pricing for eDirectory 8.7 is $2 per user. Discounts, though, are
sometimes available, according to Steinle. eDirectory 8.7 is shipping. The
product can be purchased either through Novell partners or direct from
Novell.


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Jacqueline Emigh

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