Saturday, July 13, 2024

CrossNodes Product Briefing: Directory-Enabled Services

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It’s been a long, slow road for directories. Though few doubt 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.

Other terms you may encounter in Directory Services:

  • Directory-Enabled Network (DEN) refers to the ability of network administrators to manage the a network from a central information database of users, devices and applications in a network. Directory-enabled networks are the foundation for directory-enabled services.
  • Directory-Enabled Applications (DEA) are applications that make use of the directory for automating aspects of their installation, distribution, and maintenance.
  • Common Information Model (CIM) is model for describing management information. CIM allows different management applications to collect required data from a variety of sources. CIM includes schemas for systems, networks, applications and devices. It also provides mapping techniques for data interchange with (Management Information Base) MIB data from SNMP agents.
  • Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP) is a protocol used to access a directory listing. LDAP support is being implemented in Web browsers and e-mail programs. LDAP is a sibling protocol of HTTP and FTP.
  • Novell Directory Services (NDS) is Novell’s flagship directory service introduced with Netware 4.0.
  • Web-Based Enterprise Management (WBEN) is an umbrella term for using Internet technologies to manage systems and networks throughout the enterprise. Both browsers and applications can be used to access the information that is made available in formats such as HTML and XML. WBEM uses the Common Information Model (CIM) as the database for information about computer systems and network devices.

For more information on Directory enabled networks see the CrossNodes Technology Briefing, Is Your Network Directory-Enabled?, or try the following keywords:

  • directory
  • directory service
  • NDS
  • DEN
  • DEA
  • NOS
  • network architecture
  • network management

Product Listing

Vendor:  Novell
Product: NDS eDirectory  8.5 
Operating systems: Netware 5.X ; Windows 2000/NT, Linux 2.2 and glibe 2.1.3;
  Solaris 2.6, 7 or 8; Compaq Tru64 UNIX 4.0 (DIGITAL UNIX) 
  or Tru64 UNIX 5.0
Features: LDAP compliant; X.500-based; NICI and SAS security components

Vendor:  Microsoft
Product: Active Directory 
Operating Systems: Windows 2000; Windows NT
Features: LDAP compliant; DNS based; supports multiple authentication protocols

Vendor:  iPlanet (Sun-Netscape alliance)
Product: Directory Server 5.0 
Operating Systems: Solaris 2.6, 8; HP-UX 11.0; IBM AIX 4.3.3; 
  Windows NT 4; Windows 2000
Features: LDAP compliant; supports X.509 digital certificates

This product briefing was first published on CrossNodes, an site.

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