OpenNetwork Adding Tools to Directory-Enabled App

As the enterprise directory concept continues to pick up steam, IT executives are beginning to see more sophisticated applications that run on top of those directories.

OpenNetwork Technologies is targeting those users with DirectorySmart 4.0, a directory-enabled access control application announced this week. The software is designed to control access to Web-based applications and data especially for business-to-business electronic commerce.

The software relies on the underlying directory to supply user information and allows administrators to assign application access rights to those users. The package also lets customers delegate administration of access rights.

Later this month, OpenNetwork will add measurement and analysis tools, and messaging features to DirectorySmart. The new tools let network professionals track such data as who uses what applications and when, and which applications are most popular.

"We want to learn who is using our Web site and what they are using it for," says Anne Castro, chief design architect for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of South Carolina in Columbia. She uses DirectorySmart to manage access for four Web sites with some 4,000 users. Without DirectorySmart she says she would have had to hard-code access options and security for each set of users. "I've always said, 'If you build it, they may not come,' and if that happens you need to know why and be flexible enough to make changes without creating another major project."

With the new analysis tools, users can run a number of queries to track use of Web applications, see who has what access rights and track security enforcement. Unfortunately, users cannot create custom queries with the 4.0 release, but OpenNetwork is working on an application programming interface for its reporting engine.

"OpenNetwork seems to have more of a focus on auditing than other vendors," says Phil Schacter, an analyst with The Burton Group Corp. in Utah. Vendors such as Oblix Inc., Netegrity Inc. and EnCommerce Inc. are also attacking the issue of directory-enabled access control.

"I think the evolution of these products needs to strengthen the auditing aspect. As more critical processes move to the Web infrastructure the corporate auditors will need these tools," Schacter says.

DirectorySmart works with three directories: IBM Corp.'s SecureWay, Netscape Communications Corp.'s IPlanet, and Novell Inc.'s eDirectory. It runs on IBM's AIX, Linux, Sun Microsystems Inc.'s Solaris and Windows NT 4.0. OpenNetwork plans to release a version for Active Directory and Windows 2000 in August.

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