Netscape is to incorporate LDAP (Lightweight Directory Access Protocol) 3 support into its forthcoming Directory Server software, claiming a first over rivals Microsoft and Lotus.
Directory Server 2.0, set to ship this summer, will have greatly enhanced directory services and feature replication functionality.
"It's a great advantage for administrators," said Sam Sethi, product manager at Netscape UK. "They will benefit by being able to communicate between servers." He added that the types of users who could take advantage of the functionality include recruitment agencies, who will be able to search LDAP servers across the Internet to find employees with the required skills.
Although LDAP 3 is still under review by the Internet Engineering Task Force, Netscape is said to be firmly committed to integrating the standard into its products. The protocol is expected this quarter, although delays in the ratification process could postpone its release.
LDAP 3 is the protocol which most major industry players have agreed to standardise on. It allows users of LDAP-compliant servers to look up information on similar machines on the Internet, thus allowing servers from different companies and on different platforms to swap information.
The protocol also allows companies to limit the amount of information on their LDAP servers that is visible from the outside world.
The new replication capabilities in SuiteSpot 3.0 will allow changes to one LDAP server to be replicated in those from other vendors, provided they too are LDAP-compliant. SuiteSpot 3.0 will also become a more closely integrated family of servers and begin to share common features for security, authentication and directory services.
Directory Server 2.0 will also support a multiple master architecture, meaning more than one server can be the master that replicates information to other servers. This is an important feature because of its redundancy - if one master server goes down, users are still protected.
In future releases the Directory Server will also support the Lightweight Internet Person Schema, which aims to standardise the way in which attributes of people are defined within directories.
Netscape has long been a champion of the LDAP standard. The company's cofounder, Marc Andreessen, worked on the development of the protocol while he was at college.
Separately, Netscape has begun shipments of Certificate Server, a security software package for corporate intranets. The company was able to circumvent US export laws on encryption technology by offering private key encryption, enabling users to set up their own certification programs to any number of bits.
Microsoft: IE 4.0 or 5.0?
Internet Explorer 4.0
Microsoft has denied rumours that it will drop Internet Explorer 4.0 and incorporate its functions into a new release of the browser called version 5.0. Jeremy Gittens, Internet platforms marketing manager at Microsoft UK, refused to comment on IE 5.0, but said the company is hoping to bring out a beta of IE 4.0 this quarter, with final code to follow in the middle of 1997.
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