Microsoft and Cisco have received backing from 150 vendors for their work to establish a standard for coordinating network devices, as well as users and printers, via directories.
The supporters include Microsoft's arch-rival in the directories arena, Novell, plus Hewlett-Packard, Intel and IBM.
The two companies, which are also working to implement Microsoft?s Active Directory on various Unix platforms, are rallying the industry to develop a standard for the so-called Directory Enabled Network (DEN).
The standard would enable network devices such as routers to be managed within directories in a uniform way. The profile of an individual user, held in the directory, would be extended to detail not only which printer they could use, but also other network information, such as whether they have access to videoconferencing facilities and when they need extra network bandwidth.
Kurt Dahm, senior product manager at Cisco?s directory services group, said: ?Today?s directories share information about users and printers. We now need to teach directories to store information about routers, router configurations and network services.?
Microsoft and Cisco recently held a meeting with 150 other networking vendors who asked for copies of the DEN specification and promised to participate in further meetings, said Dahm.
Among the initial work is the development of a schema and an information model, which would define the relationship between different data types, and allow directories to associate users with all network services.
Dahn said the DEN standard would outline the base line interoperability between different devices and not specify how vendors should configure their routers or switches.
The group is scheduled to meet in January when the participants are expected to agree on the specification. The work would then be passed onto an official standards body. Products adhering to the standard are expected in the first half of next year.
Microsoft and Cisco are already working together to integrate Cisco?s Internetworking Operating System (IOS) with Microsoft?s Active Directory. This is expected to increase significantly the scalability of NT in terms of administering the network.
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