Kearns' column: When noise means nothing

There's been a lot of noise on the directory services front over the past few weeks, but Macbeth's words probably best sum up the recent news: "It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing."

Oracle finally got around to recognising the importance of directories with its announcement of Oracle Internet Directory. Why "Internet"? Because it's a buzz word, or at least Larry Ellison thinks so. But Larry's never been known to be on culture's cutting edge. (Even his lifestyle is stuck in the '60s -- read Mike Wilson's book, The Difference Between God and Larry Ellison.) The product should have been released years ago to leverage Oracle's database supremacy. After all, what is a directory except a special form of database?

Earlier this month, Entevo released version 2.0 of its DirectManage product for NT networks -- an outstanding product bringing a semblance of directory services to Microsoft's inane domain structure. (See this week's Focus on Windows NT newsletter at for more about version 2.0). That should have been enough, but unfortunately Entevo also announced the DirectAdmin NDS Plus Pack -- a virtual directory for your mixed NT and NetWare network administered from NT utilities. Hello? If you're already using NT to administer your network, what's the point of having a NetWare server? And if you have a NetWare server, you should be running NDS for NT, a far superior product.

Finally, Sun, Lucent, CheckPoint Software, Cisco, IBM, Microsoft and Nortel Networks, among others, joined together under the leadership of Process Software to "continue efforts in developing an industry-standard schema within the Internet Engineering Task Force for directory-enabling the Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP)", a recent Process press release stated. The IETF's DHCP Working Group hopes to tie into the Common Information Model (CIM) being developed by the Desktop Management Task Force (DMTF), which is currently trying to incorporate the Directory Enabled Network (DEN) initiative. Can anything good come from so many acronyms?

In case you've been asleep, by the way, Novell Directory Services already manages DHCP quite well. Maybe all the noise does signify something after all -- Novell's complete domination of directory services.

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

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