Microsoft has fundamentally changed its position in the directories market with the acquisition of independent US meta directory supplier Zoomit.
Frances Fawcett, Microsoft's Windows product manager, confirmed to PC Week that the acquisition of Zoomit last week gave Microsoft the technology it needs to ensure that its Active Directory (ADS) would be interoperable with products from other directory vendors when it is released in the second half of this year.
"We are not generally perceived as being very good when it comes to interoperability with other vendors, but there are all sorts of areas where we are - we just don't make a song and dance about it," she said.
Meta directories link heterogeneous directories together. Zoomit's product will enable ADS users to manage data, passwords and configurations over multiple servers.
Dusan Rnic, Netscape's product marketing manager, said: "This clarifies ADS's position. There was a perception that it was going to cause a lot of problems in the marketplace. Microsoft has had to acknowlege that ADS cannot be the proprietary directory and that it has to integrate - which is good news."
Microsoft's decision to buy Zoomit last week followed closely on the announcement by Novell, IBM and Oracle of the formation of the Directory Interoperability Forum.
Forum members also include Isocor, which specialises in meta directory technology.
The forum's stated purpose is to speed the development and deployment of directory-enabled applications that run across different platforms.
The forum will define, create and implement consistent software development kits (SDKs) for use with directories based on such standards as LDAP (Lightweight Directory Access Protocol).
The SDKs, which will be available by the end of the year, will help software developers to write directory applications based on a set of common APIs that support directories from all forum members.
Neither Microsoft nor Netscape is represented in the forum.
Netscape's Rnic told PC Week:: "In principle, (the forum) is a marvellous idea, but Netscape is reluctant to be involved because only directory vendors will be able to vote on anything.
"We believe that a forum like this would be more balanced if developers, third-party application vendors and vendors building servers could also vote. As it is, it is polluting the (interoperability) principle," he added.
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