The directory is the thing, and IBM is expanding its already expansive directory strategy with its announcement on Wednesday of seven new partner companies whose applications will support IBM's eNetwork directory.
The companies -- Triangulum Software, Security Dynamics, Persistent Systems Private, Netegrity, Allot Communications, enCommerce, and Dascom -- are primarily makers of user and security-policy platforms used to control access to extranets and Web-based applications and information.
Sumner Blount, Netegrity's product director, noted the importance of a sound directory in security applications.
"(Our customers) view directories as a prerequisite for a successful deployment of any enterprise-level security strategy," Blount said. "They believe that an enterprise directory is the most important component of their strategy."
Phyllis Byrne, IBM vice president of distributed system services, outlined IBM's directory strategy, which extends well beyond security functions and controls.
"We are rallying around the (eNetwork) LDAP (Lightweight Directory Access Protocol) directory as the fundamental store in our environment," Byrne said. "We are using the LDAP directory as our vehicle for security, user, and network-based information."
In addition to the new supporting partners, IBM is also expanding its directory strategy to incorporate eNetwork more comprehensively into its own range of middleware.
"The eNetwork LDAP directory is the fundamental pillar to establish e-business," Byrne said. In 1999, IBM will incorporate elements of the directory into WebSphere, Lotus applications, Windows NT suites, and the Tivoli systems management platform, she added.
Only last week Tivoli Systems, an IBM subsidiary, announced it would incorporate Novell Directory Services (NDS) into the Tivoli Enterprise systems management platform. But IBM's use of its powerful DB/2 database as the data store within its eNetwork directory shows that yesterday's announcements hint at bigger plans, Byrne said.
"We need a directory for our systems that scales massively up through our 390 systems," Byrne said. "This is not a casual endeavour; we are doing it as a fundamental systems tenet."
Indeed, the breadth of IBM's approach will require the development of a meta directory to control and organise the many directories that are commonly found in disparate applications, including Tivoli Enterprise, Byrne said.
"We are doing work in LDAP meta directories, and it is work of necessity," Byrne added.