Directory Management Market on the Rise

Directory services are hot. With Microsoft Corp., Novell Inc. and more recently Oracle Corp. building a presence in this space, industry observers agree that directory services will play a major role in corporate networks in the near future.

Over the next few years [how many], the installed base for Novell’s NDS is expected to grow from about 1.5 million to nearly 5 million, and Microsoft Corp.’s Active Directory will grow from zero installations to about 1.5 million installations, according to International Data Corp. (IDC, www.idc.com).

As the directory services market grows, so will the market for directory management products. Directory services normally supply information on users, systems and available services as well as manage replication and inheritance; directory management products manage the data in different directories and extended directories.

"Everybody thinks that directory services is going to be the savior, but without quality data, directories won’t be much good," observes Jan Kaminski, president of FastLane Technologies (www.fastlanetech.com), a provider of directory management software. "The efficiency of the directory is directly related to the quality of the data in the directory. Directory management is about managing the data within directories to ensure quality data and make the directories useful."

In addition to FastLane, other key players in this emerging market include Aelita Software Inc. (www.aelita.com), Banyan Systems Inc. (www.banyan.com), Entevo Corp. (www.entevo.com) and Mission Critical Software Inc. (www.missioncritical.com), each of which is currently shipping a product.

"It’s a pretty nascent market, and as such, there are not a lot of products that compete directly with each other -- but that’s typical of an early market," says Steve Kleynhans, vice president of workgroup computing strategies at Meta Group (www.metagroup.com). "This is an emerging market and it will take a couple years to hammer out what fits where."

Kleynhans points out that there are two directions the market space is headed. The immediate aim is to simulate directory services on Windows NT via user domains and a bunch of tools. Windows NT 4.0 lacks directory services, and it is uncertain whether Windows 2000, with the promise of Active Directory, will deliver adequate directory services. Long-term, there is a vision of the directory management facility, which will enable administrators to manage all the directories in a mixed-mode network through one interface.

"As an industry, we don’t believe we’ll get to the point of having one single directory service," Kleynhans says. One obstacle vendors face is a lack of existing directories that need to be managed. To date, many directories are application specific.

"Directory services such as NDS and Active Directory are more general purpose, broadly deployable management solutions than application-specific directories," Kleynhans says. "When directory services become prevalent, point products that manage specific apps will be pretty useless. In turn, there will be a need to manage the directory services."

Another problem is merging data from disparate directory services. Studies from Forrester Research (www.forrester.com) find that the average Fortune 500 company has 180 directories. "One of the problems companies have today is a lot of data in their directories, and anyone can tell you that this data is not going to go away," Kaminski adds.