Netscape Teams with Isocor to Deliver Meta-Directory

Building on its directory integration strategy, Netscape Communications Corp. announced a partnership with Isocor (, an Internet messaging and directory software developer, to build metadirectory technology.

Isocor’s beta metadirectory product, MetaConnect, and its technology will play key roles in the development of a metadirectory platform. MetaConnect includes a join engine that identifies duplicate directory records in multiple directories and automatically combines the information into a single directory entry.

The metadirectory platform will also use Isocor’s connector technology to provide integration with information sources, such as operating systems, telephony products and database applications.

Netscape licensed Isocor’s join technology, which is the foundation of MetaConnect and Netscape’s Meta-Directory 1.0 suite. The suite includes Netscape Directory Server, the metadirectory server and a few connectors.

"To build new Internet applications that seamlessly access all of a company’s data, there needs to be a central repository for all the data in the different directories," says David McNeely, senior product manager for Meta-Directory at Netscape. "The suite will make disparate directory information from human resources systems, databases, messaging systems and network operating systems directories available to e-commerce applications."

The key functions of the suite are to move data from various directories into the Meta-Directory, to keep the data up to date and to join the data together. These are done by namespaces.

For instance, if a single user has separate namespaces throughout a network -- such as an e-mail address, a username for human resources and a username in a Windows NT domain as well as a Unix domain – and all represent the user in different directories, the Meta-Directory can tie data together from the various directories. If a change is made within the human resources directory, for example, Meta-Directory can automatically register the change across the other directories, communicate with each directory and enable the directories to communicate with each other.

All major network operating systems have directories of one form of another that dictate how that particular tree is laid out. Meta-Directory, however, is independent of any network operating system and any applications.

"Metadirectories are becoming critical in providing broad services, as opposed to the specific services of traditional directories," says Larry Gauthier, senior analyst at the Burton Group ( "The reality is that no big companies have one NOS and one e-mail system. Instead, they have a little bit of everything and need some method of joining all these together."

Long range plans for the agreement include working toward an industry standard for metadirectories. "We intend to standardize some schema work," says Ian Goldsmith, product marketing manager at Isocor. "We are working to make it compliant with NDS and Active Directory and expect that to happen in the next two to three months."

The companies also aim to integrate the technology with IBM Corp.’s e-business directories and other LDAP-based directories. All the companies have to do, says Goldsmith, is finish the needed LDAP extensions.