Most elements of the much hyped directory enabled networking (DEN) standard will not be ratified until the first quarter of next year, at the earliest, with products six months later.
The specifications will enable network devices to be managed within directories in order to control user access to resources. They should have been passed to the standards body, the Desktop Management Forum (DMTF), in June, but this was delayed until September, 'Newswire' learned from the DMTF's chairman, Winston Bumpus.
Key supporters of DEN are Cisco, Novell and Microsoft. Bumpus attributed the lateness to the summer lull and the appearance of another set of specifications, which required DEN to be tweaked. The delay ?was not politically based", he said.
The initiative enables profiles of individual users, held in the directory, to be extended, to detail not only which printer they can use, but also other network information, such as whether they have access to videoconferencing facilities and when they need extra network bandwidth.
DEN was initiated by Cisco and Microsoft a year ago following their work to integrate the networking giant?s Internetwork Operating System (IOS) with NT 5.
The move originally boasted support from 70 suppliers, but Novell - which aims to make its directory technology NDS a de facto standard - was conspicuous by its absence in the early days. It argued that Microsoft and Cisco would take control of the specs, which had yet to be submitted to the DMTF at that time.
But in a curious twist, Novell?s announcement of its formal support for the initiative in March 1998 coincided with the DMTF?s appointment of a new president - Novell?s own corporate architect, Bumpus.
Since then, separate camps have emerged, announcing new developments for DEN - Netscape and Bay, and Novell and Lucent have submitted proposals, as well as the original Microsoft-Cisco axis.
Bumpus denied that these partnerships are dividing DEN. ?Within the DMTF all players have to work together and we are working together. At a company level it is a great opportunity for Novell because we have been in the directory business for a long time. Companies that have network services are lining up with the player they want to do business with - and at the end of the day, it is Novell that has had directory services for the longest,? he explained.
He also dismissed suggestions that his Novell role would give the company the balance of power in the DMTF. The forum operates a 'one company one vote' scheme, he said, and most of the top players are represented on the board, including Cisco, since a recent appointment.
Though the original idea of DEN remains unchanged the name will probably die away. In February the initiative was merged into another DMTF standards scheme, Common Information Model (CIM), which covers overall management from desktop to enterprise. While DEN addresses the network aspect, such as routers and switches, CIM involves the applications layer.
The physical side of CIM, relating to the network?s chassis and cable connectors, for example, was ratified by the DMTF on 8 October. The rest will not be ratified until the first quarter of next year, if all goes well, noted Bumpus.
Another DMTF project that will have implications for DEN is Web Based Enterprise Management (WBEM). Part of this is the definition of a standard for XML, the extensible mark-up language used to describe data that is universal to reading devices. DEN developers will eventually use XML to exchange data and classes - the method of describing data. DMTF announced version 1.0 of its XML encoding specification for CIM on 19 October.
Said Bumpus: ?We will see products supporting XML encoding in enterprise management systems and point management solutions early next year.? However, products supporting the full DEN model will not appear until the third quarter of next year.
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