Opening up DirXML

By Dave Kearns, Network World |  Software

A move Novell made last week should open up new areas of consulting, handholding, service and support for DirXML.

DirXML is the bundle of products and services that Novell offers as a "metadirectory" to hook other directories and databases -- such as Notes, Exchange, Windows NT, etc. -- into Novell Directory Services (NDS) by means of redirectors and agents. It lets you maintain those legacy products through NDS's utilities, such as NWADMIN or ConsoleOne.

While originally only available through an engagement with Novell's Consulting Services, DirXML has gradually been repositioned. First, Novell's consulting partners were allowed to install it, and now Novell's largest customers (those covered by a Corporate License Agreement, or CLA) can purchase it directly.

Still, these companies are willing to commit to large purchases with a 1- or 2-year contract in return for discounts on list price. Smaller organizations still can't purchase DirXML directly. And perhaps that’s a good thing.

DirXML is no easy-to-use, point-and-click application -- it’s a very complicated set of services, rules, engines and connectors that must be put together properly, or else you risk your entire directory structure. At the same time, DirXML needs to reflect your business and office-political climate so that full cooperation of all interested parties can be assured -- otherwise, you could face disaster.

But Novell’s latest move changes things. Novell has been in the forefront of activity to define Directory Services Markup Language (DSML -- a subset of XML) within the OASIS group (the Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards). Version 1 of DSML was promulgated almost 18 months ago, but it consisted of little more than definitions. Version 2 was needed to get activity rolling on applications that could use DSML.

In an effort to see that Version 2 moves forward, Novell is opening up the basic architecture of DirXML, as well as the results of the research and development which went into the product, as the basis of the next version of the DSML standard. It is expected that the group will accept this with few changes, so Version 2 of DSML should be forthcoming before year-end.

While it may not affect your network very much in the immediate future, it should allow you to bask in the knowledge that you've been making the right choices and bolster your attempts to make NDS eDirectory your enterprise directory, with DirXML as your metadirectory service. It might even be used to free up a buck or two to hire a consultant to bring in DirXML.

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