Novell, IBM extending directories to outside users

Novell is readying an Internet-commerce strategy to position its Novell Directory Services (NDS) as the centerpiece of a comprehensive extranet management system.

IBM, meanwhile, plans to offer its own set of tools for directory-based management of extranets.

Novell's iChain initiative, scheduled for launch this quarter, assembles a number of existing Novell products, along with additional tools and services, into a system that centrally manages both internal and extranet users.

The value proposition to NDS customers is to provide a single point of user administration -- for those inside the firewall as well as for the increasing number of business partners who require access to company information from outside the network's borders.

The iChain plan avoids much of the duplication that other extranet management systems can cause, according to Lubor Ptapcek, product marketing manager at Novell.

"With other solutions, you have two firewalls and a demilitarised zone in between, and they are protected from both sides. Essentially it means two entities that are completely separate with duplicate hardware, data, and teams of administrators, and this is adding cost," Ptapcek said.

"[iChain] would provide the opportunity to give the extranet users access to data inside the company without having to duplicate the data," Ptapcek added.

Novell's iChain will pull together NDS, plus features from other existing Novell products, such as the authentication capabilities found in BorderManager. With this capability, external users will be able to access NDS by starting a Secure Sockets Layer session in a browser.

External users would then be assigned policies stored in NDS so they see only the applications to which they have access.

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