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Managing Large-Scale Directories in a Tiered Structure

Novell Cool Solutions: Feature
By David Guest

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Posted: 21 Jul 2003

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Here's the Overview:

The recent growth in directories has seen the "Meta-Directory" take on a new, highly-visible role in the management of identity. This role can be seen as either a central location for storing common data, shared between multiple, disparate, systems; or as a location to hold meta-tags, indicating data locations for relevant data attributes about an identity. Each of these functions has a specific place in the corporate environment. They each have strengths and weaknesses which should be assessed before any decision is made as to which is best for a specific environment.

The core directory holding meta-tags can be a relatively small system; certainly a tag should be smaller than the data it represents. However, any application or system that makes a request to this directory must be able to understand, and make a forwarding request to, the meta-data returned by the system. As an alternative, the directory system must be able to make the onward request on behalf of the application and translate the data returned to a form that the application can understand. In this case, the directory is now a reference piece within a full application (or system) architecture. The growth of XML (Extensible Markup Language) as a transport medium may well ease the implementation of this form of technology in the future.

The data form of Meta-Directory is larger in scale, holding all of the relevant data internally. This simplifies the application architecture; it only has to look for, and understand information returned from, data in one location.

In both cases, data--whether meta-tags or real data--must be added to the Meta-Directory and be managed throughout its lifecycle. This management must not be limited to the meta-directory, but must touch on each of the other system directories (or databases) which hold identity information.

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