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February 23, 1999


By CBR Staff Writer

Oracle Corp made its entrance into the competitive directory arena with the announcement yesterday of two new products, one for the enterprise space, designed to manage access to Oracle applications, and the other for governing user access, privileges and preferences over the internet. The Redwood City, California- based database giant said both directories are designed to work on top of its upcoming internet-enabled database, Oracle 8i, due to be released in the second quarter. Both versions of the directory will support up to 500 million entries (users or user information) and can handle up to 10,000 simultaneous users, the company said. For the enterprise directory, the software vendor announced it has partnered with Novell to enable NDS (Novell Directory Services) to interoperate with Oracle Internet Directory (OID). Speaking to a teleconference of reporters yesterday, Jeremy Burton, Oracle’s VP of server marketing, said the aim was to reduce the number of enterprise directories from the eighty or so available today, to a core of around three or four. OID will only communicate with Novell’s directory through LDAP 3 (Lightweight Dynamic Access Protocol) at first, to enable Novell administrators to manage access to Oracle applications through NDS and to provide users with a single sign on for all Novell and Oracle assets across the network. But interoperability doesn’t equal true synchronization, which means any changes made to NDS or OID won’t automatically be updated in either database. The administrator will have to make those changes manually to both systems. However, Burton added that the plan was to work with Novell to enable NDS to be hosted on top of 8i, and to take advantage of the features within the database. It’s a gradual process of consolidation rather than the big bang, he said. But we’re committed to integrating NDS on 8i. We don’t have a timeline yet, so we’re just not announcing it yet. As well as working to port NDS with 8i, the two also said they would work together to accelerate the development of LDAP extensions. Burton said Oracle chose to partner with Novell because it considered NDS as the central enterprise hub, into which a number of satellite directories feed their data. We see NDS at the center and Oracle connecting in to it as one of those satellites, he said. The main benefit of the interoperability is that Novell administrators no longer have to worry about linking into multiple Oracle environments since OID combines all the user access data for each Oracle application and presents it as one, unified directory. There are specific issues to managing an Oracle environment that Novell is not able to do, said Adrian Viegl, Novell’s general manager, strategic relations. But by enabling the two to communicate through LDAP, Viegl said Novell didn’t have to bother extending NDS’ capabilities to overcome those problems. Burton denied that getting into bed with Novell was really just a marketing ploy to attract mindshare away from Microsoft’s forthcoming Active X directory (incorporated within Windows 2000). He said that Oracle intends to make its directory compliant with other LDAP3 compliant directories, including Microsoft’s but he added: We haven’t seen any evidence of Active Directory LDAP compliance yet. The second version of OID, which Oracle is referring to as a hosting directory, is aimed at internet service providers (ISPs) and telecommunications carriers. Burton said Oracle has been working with around 12 ISPs to develop the directory and that a number of them are currently testing the technology in beta format. He said the directory would enable ISPs to compile a comprehensive set of management data for each user including access details, subscriber preferences and privileges, digital certificates and so on. Burton said Oracle 8i was an ideal platform for the hosting directory since it met all the key criteria needed for a Net directory; it’s standards based, it’s scaleable and it’s secure. The company would not disclose pricing details for either directory product other than to say that pricing for the enterprise version would be based on a concurrent license basis while the hosting directory will be charged on a per-directory entry basis, where one entry is equivalent to a user name, a user preference, a digital certificate, a public key and so on.

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