Kearns' column: Hunting for Directory Apps

A larger-than-usual number will be reading this on an aeroplane, winging towards Las Vegas for NetWorld+Interop 99. This could be a very exciting show, especially for those of us who have been hunting high and low for applications that effectively leverage directory services.

The big hardware folks have already weighed in with their offerings as have the directory management vendors. Now it's time for other software houses to directory-enable their products.

As just one example, venerable speech processing company Dragon Systems has announced (and is just about ready to ship) a directory-enabled version of its flagship Dragon NaturallySpeaking software. This speech recognition software has been used for years to improve productivity and speed in a variety of applications, including e-mail packages, forms entry and natural language search programs, medical and legal record systems, and corporate groupware applications.

The new directory-enabled Dragon NaturallySpeaking Enterprise software lets a network administrator install and manage Dragon NaturallySpeaking software from a central location. You can use the new Administrator Workbench to create and delete users, and update vocabularies and speech commands. NaturallySpeaking Enterprise requires a network that provides directory service to Windows clients, including Windows 2000 (with Active Directory) and NetWare (with Novell Directory Services).

Speech files and speech commands are stored on the server. Users can log on from any PC on the network and use or modify their speech files and commands. Portable PC users can copy their speech files to their local drives, alter the files while disconnected from the network and then resynchronize when reconnected to the network.

Applications such as NaturallySpeaking Enterprise can help you sell the benefits of the directory to the sceptics in your enterprise. These are the products that make digital identity a reality -- no matter where you are, anywhere on the network or even remotely connected -- the applications look and feel the same while optimising themselves for your location and the client hardware you're using.

Dave Kearns, a former network administrator, is a freelance writer and consultant in Austin, Texas. He can be reached at

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