Microsoft is tempting users into its proprietary net with a directoryvices. synchronising tool that rivals industry standard LDAP.
Last week the company released its Dir Sync specification, which claims to link all other directories to Active Directory and ensure that a change in one directory is replicated across all the others.
But LDAP (Lightweight Directory Access Protocol), endorsed by the IETF (Internet Engineering Task Force), is the accepted method of achieving that goal. A forthcoming version of LDAP called LDUP (Lightweight Directory Update Protocol) does exactly what Microsoft's tool is offering.
Analysts warned that the software giant's tactics could damage user companies.
"Microsoft will take control of the standard and possess it to prevent the industry from achieving any kind of open sourcing," argued Stephen Minton, senior analyst at IDC. "This will hurt users because if Microsoft achieves the penetration it hopes with Windows 2000, once again it will be dictating pricing and future development of this technology."
"LDAP is good for looking up information, but it does not replicate changes from one directory to another," claimed Nick McGrath, Windows product manager at Microsoft. "We wrote the code inhouse to ensure we could plug Active Directory services into other directories."
The executive director of the IETF, Steve Coya, told PC Week that Microsoft had not submitted the technology to the industry body for scrutiny. "Vendors are allowed to differentiate their products from one another but our advice is that they use our protocols to produce products that interoperate," he said.
Microsoft's Dir Sync is an attack on Novell, with its Scalable Directory Services (see PC Week, 16 March), demonstrated at its BrainShare conference last week.
"Novell is working with the standards bodies to ensure that NDS works seamlessly with all other directory servers," said Peter Joseph, technology strategist at Novell. "LDAP is a much stronger protocol than the tool Microsoft is offering and it isn't purely based on Active Directory."
Ashim Pal, senior analyst at the Meta Group, said: "Dir Sync is not the magic answer for directory synchronisation. It is already part of NT server and Microsoft has siphoned it off as a separate tool in a desperate attempt to counter Novell."
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