March 2000 - ZDNet] Novell Inc. [NASDAQ:NOVL] used its user conference
to test the efficacy of recent efforts to simplify its marketing message
and attract a new generation of customers to buy into its directory-centric
e-business strategy. A key piece of that strategy is the DirXML metadirectory,
which Novell demonstrated in beta form at its BrainShare conference in
Salt Lake City.
enables Novell's NDS eDirectory to inherit information from the many legacy
directories in an enterprise and display it to an administrator, who can
then manipulate and manage that information from the eDirectory interface.
DirXML uses LDAP (Lightweight Directory Access Protocol) to connect to
other directories and XML (Extensible Markup Language) to communicate
This gets Novell three-quarters of the way there. NDS is almost universally
regarded as the ne plus ultra of corporate directories. This is especially
true when compared to systems like Windows NT's domain security. Microsoft's
Active Directory, a feature of Windows 2000, goes a long way toward bridging
the feature gap. Paradoxically, it is running into many of the same issues
that plagued NDS when NDS debuted in 1993 as part of NetWare 4.0 - it
is potentially so complex that global organizations may take years to
is why the DirXML strategy could be a winner. Rather than use native NDS
on each platform supported, DirXML promises to let you leave each legacy
directory (e.g., NT domains, Solaris user accounts, Cisco IOS) in its
own native format. This eliminates the need for changes to each legacy
directory's software and schema.
are Novell's NDS building blocks:
- NDS eDirectory: central, extensible repository of all directory
- LDAP: de facto standard for querying and adding to a given
directory - the SQL of directories, if you will
- XML: a tool for adding unique, legacy platform specific
information types to the records being exchanged
- Transport protocol: Undetermined
has proposed using SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol) as a means of
exchanging XML data via HTTP. Novell needs to complete the fourth piece
of its puzzle, either by accepting or competing with SOAP. (Hint: avoid
reliance on Redmond at all costs.)
Warning: as with most network products, you are now entering an acronym
rich environment. Bring a dictionary.
is open beta software, and the final product could vary in functionality.
But no two enterprise structures are alike. Neither Active Directory,
nor NDS, can be all things to all people. Paradoxically, this could be
a better solution to bridging mixed NT domain/AD environments. Novell
shops should certainly evaluate it. Complex NT/2000 environments with
many complex directories (Unix-hosted databases, mail systems, NetWare
3.X servers, etc.) may also want to take a look.