Struggling network vendor Banyan grabbed a lifeline from Microsoftctory. last week in a deal that will see the pair collaborating closely on the Windows Active Directory.
For #6 million over three years, Banyan will provide rival Microsoft with the ability to merge Active Directory with its own StreetTalk directory and help integrate it with other directory products such as Novell NDS and IBM's directory services.
Microsoft refused to comment on whether it would use StreetTalk technology in its development of Active Directory, which has been plagued by delays.
However, analysts think the deal could spell the end for Banyan as a technology company.
"We could see the demise of StreetTalk over time in place of Active Directory," commented Eric Brown, analyst at Forrester Research. "Forty per cent of Banyan's revenue last year came from services - it is becoming a services company. But it's a shame to see Banyan digging its own grave, as its technology has always been very good."
"Directory technology from Banyan will be integrated with Active Directory primarily to help migrate Banyan customers from StreetTalk on NT over to Windows 2000 and Active Directory," said Steve Beswick, alliance partner manager at Microsoft. Beswick refused to comment on specific areas of technology that Microsoft would take from Banyan's directory, but said they would be working very closely together.
Both companies denied that the deal is the prelude to a takeover.
Rob Dorpmans, Banyan's country manager for Europe, said: "Large enterprises use more than one directory, and Microsoft's problem is consolidating these disparate systems under one reference. LDAP goes a long way towards ensuring integration, but does not provide the kind of sophistication Microsoft requires. We will take that one step further and enable synchronisation between directories."
"Banyan will be Microsoft's key arm in implementing Active Directory," predicted Chris Le Tocq, director of software consulting at Gartner.
He added: "Microsoft will be getting a lot of feedback from Banyan on what does and doesn't work with Active Directory."
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