Novell's eDirectory emerges as key player in services game plan

InfoWorld |  Networking

SALT LAKE CITY -- As part of its underlying vision for a single, unified network, Novell's eDirectory has quietly emerged as a central piece of technology for bridging access to Web-enabled network services. Here at the company's BrainShare user conference, Novell officials showcased new eDirectory enhancements and talked up the role of the technology in the future of Internet services.

According to one analyst, Novell's directory and related technologies such as DirXML integration software are helping the Provo, Utah-based company transform its offerings and image.

"[Novell is] moving forward with messages that resonate with contemporary uses," said Martin Marshall, an analyst at Zona Research in Redwood City, Calif. "One example is the use of the directory for enabling devices for e-commerce."

"A directory is almost a misnomer for what they are putting together. There is a database, application services, security. They call it a directory but it does a lot more," Marshall added.

Many Novell executives here at the conference, including CTO Carl Ledbetter, touted the importance of the eDirectory in Novell's evolution.

"The directory is the centerpiece of our technical strategy but not the business strategy, because it won't be a big revenue driver," Ledbetter said. "Microsoft built their empire on DOS because so many developers built applications for it. The directory will be Novell's DOS. We want people to build applications for the directory."

The directory's capability for authentication, access, and security is an extraordinarily powerful thing, according to Ledbetter.

The future of the Internet will demand "infinite customization that can only be done if identity is known unambiguously in the network," Ledbetter said. "And the directory, with business rules, is where that comes from. The directory knows who you are, what you need, your title, and can get you that information faster."

Earlier in the week, Novell announced plans to add wireless functionality to the next version of eDirectory via a management framework tool. Designed to extend the power of the directory to handheld devices and wireless networks, the tool allows users to access or modify attributes in the directory through role-based services, company officials said. The eDirectory management framework runs on Netscape and Internet Explorer and supports HTML, XML, and LDAP. In addition, Novell at the conference rolled out eDirectory support for Compaq Tru64 and IBM AIX operating systems.

One Novell customer on hand at the show, an employee of television and movie company 20th Century Fox, said Novell's eDirectory provides his organization a central link to Web services.

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