In an embarrassing climb down from its steadfast commitment to Microsoft, networking giant Cisco has been forced to work with Novell's NDS.
Until now, Cisco has been publicly supporting Microsoft's Active Directory technology for Windows 2000. Only two weeks ago, the firm repeated its commitment to the platform when PC Week learned the networking vendor had not received all the Active Directory code it required (see PC Week, 3 November).
Microsoft and Cisco announced a broad alliance for directory-enabling networking nearly two years ago.
"Having put all its eggs in one basket, Cisco is now a step behind its two key competitors, Lucent and Nortel, which both went with Novell's NDS weeks ago," said Ashim Pal, senior analyst at the Meta Group. "It was clearly a business error (on Cisco's part), given the large installed base of NDS."
Unlike Nortel and Lucent, Cisco will not license NDS. The company stated it was demonstrating its "continuing commitment to interoperability through standards". That means Cisco will use extensions to the Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP) to connect to NDS, probably the same LDAP extensions it will use to work with Active Directory.
Cisco refused to comment on its wait for Active Directory but did admit to the growing momentum of NDS. However, a spokesman made it clear that Active Directory continued to be its "core directory service".
Cisco plans to provide the LDAP-to-NDS feature within the first half of next year in two CiscoAssure products: Cisco Regis-trar IP Registration Services and its User Registration and Tracking service.
"The Cisco relationship is critical to Novell," said Ron Palmeri, Novell's VP of corporate strategy and development. He said Cisco and Novell customers had been vocal in recent months about getting the two companies to work together on directory-enabled networking products and standards.
- More Network news, p24
Novell's NDS technology will work with all current Cisco routers and its embedded network operating system, Internetwork Operating System (IOS), to give administrators the capability to set priorities by application, user or groups of users, and to configure and reconfigure routers via NDS, from one console.
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