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2003: The year of the directory?

Looking into the crystal ball for IT in '03, we see a bright spot -- a spot occupied by directory services and ID management.

For many Windows administrators who are moving up to Active Directory, this year and next year will be their first major exposure to installing and managing sophisticated directory services.

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  • But directories and their related technologies are expected to be IT bright spots next year. Some of the trends to watch are the emergence of alternatives to meta-directories and the maturation of identity management software. Also, expect to see new companies that want to manage these applications jockey for their places in the market.

    Masha Khmartseva, a directory services analyst at the Radicati Group, a Palo Alto, Calif., market researcher, said that meta-directories are now hitting their stride, but in the past year, virtual directories have emerged as an alternative. "The technologies are different but they solve the same problem," she said.

    Meta-directories consolidate data in one directory store, which eliminates redundancy of multiple entries in different directories. Virtual directories have pointers to data -- memorizing where the data is located. Microsoft sells its own Microsoft Meta-directory Services, which is free for Microsoft customers but only works on Windows networks. Radiant Logic Inc. and MaXware International are two companies that make virtual directories, which work across multiple platforms.

    Identity management should be a pervasive buzzword in 2003. The concept combines several things, including directory management, e-provisioning and security. The idea is to take the best of all the applications and put them into one package.

    But no vendor offers a complete package, Khmartseva said. IBM looks like it will be the early leader, having purchased two companies this year. Big Blue snapped up Access 360 in October and will make it part of the Tivoli security software business. MetaMerge, a Norwegian company that makes directory integration software, joined the Big Blue family in June.

    Microsoft positions Active Directory as an identity management product, particularly now that the software will be sold unbundled next year in the form of Active Directory/Application Mode. It will more effectively compete with Novell's metadirectory -- eDirectory.

    The size of the directory services market next year is hard to pinpoint, Khmartseva said. "Every company we talk with says it plays in this space, though no one offers a solution."

    However, Radicati Group projects the directory services market to be about $343 million for 2003. The identity management market is even harder to quantify because it must also include e-provisioning and security applications.

    Khmartseva also points to the emerging class of vendors who sell directory content management and directory management applications. "Many companies are deploying directories so the vendors are shifting their focus from managing data in the directories to managing the directories," she said.

    The vendors break into four segments: directory management, directory content management, directory migration and directory centric security applications.

    Vendors that make directory management and directory migration software include Aelita Software, Discus Data, NetIQ and Quest. The big directory content management provider today is Calendra. And directory centric security application companies, which make Web-based password control, single sign-on capabilities, etc., include Bindview Corp., NetIQ Corp., Oblix Inc. and Netvision Inc.

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