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From the Inside Out: What's Next for Novell eDirectory - Part 1

Novell Cool Solutions: Feature
By Ted Haeger

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Posted: 31 Mar 2004

What's Next for Novell eDirectory: Part I

Ted Haeger, Director of Marketing and Product Management for the eDirectory Product Line

BrainShare 2004 is in the books ? and what a ride it was. Hopefully you were one of the more than 6,000 who converged on Salt Lake City for the event, but if not, just know that the energy and excitement around Novell is back in a big way.

BrainShare, of course, offers attendees a chance to see and touch just about every product and solution in the Novell universe, and eDirectory was no exception. In particular, the eDirectory team provided a first look at the improvements and feature enhancements in the next version of Novell's industry-leading directory, a project called "Rosalind" that will be available later this year. And now, we'd like to give our Cool Solutions readers a closer look at some of those features, starting with what we're calling "multi-instance support."

In plainest terms, multi-instance support is the ability to host more than just one eDirectory service on a single server. Why is that important? Multiple instances can help you:

  • Maximize your hardware utilization
  • .
  • Set up test implementations on hardware that is exactly the same as your production hardware, not just similar to it.
  • Host multiple different LDAP trees, such as one for your customer identities and another for your enterprise identities.
  • Take advantage of some new performance tuning options for eDirectory.
  • Optimize application performance by using Novell Nsure Identity Manager to synchronize directory data into a tree specially structured for that application, without having to invest in a whole new server for each additional application-specific tree.

Let's look at some of these scenarios a little more closely.

Maximizing your Hardware Utilization

Perhaps you have invested in a fairly high-end server platform to host your directory services tree. Novell eDirectory seldom if ever over-taxes such platforms, leaving spare machine cycles available. In such a scenario, a single instance of eDirectory may leave you feeling you could do more if you could just host more on the box. Multiple instances of eDirectory will allow you to host more instances of your directory on that server, and thereby allow you to get more value from that high-end hardware investment.

Setting Up an Effective and Economical Test Lab

Any directory administrator knows the value of testing software in a lab environment before it's rolled out to the enterprise. Hosting test lab instances on the same server as your production directory allows the test to more accurately mirror your actual operating environment. In this case, multi-instance support offers an important staging option in your test and rollout plan.

Hosting Multiple Production Trees

Many organizations are finding that they need more than a single directory tree. For example, it could be argued that managing the identities of all your customers in the same LDAP directory as your employees and enterprise resources is not an ideal option. The ability to apply your current host platform to this additional purpose can greatly reduce the expense of deploying such special-purpose identity repositories.

Performance Tuning

The ability to partition directory data has long been a key differentiator for Novell eDirectory. One advantage of partitioning the data is that it allows you to reduce the size of the underlying data store and thereby acclerate searches, repairs and other data-intensive operations. Multiple instance support allows you to implement several different partitions, each as a separate instance on a server. This means that all your data can now be local but divided into manageable, logical units to accelerate performance on data-intensive operations.

Optimizing Directory Data Structures for Applications

Your enterprise directory may have been structured to best handle organizational management needs, or perhaps to provide the best possible response times for various remote sites. But suppose an application requires a very different data structure from your enterprise deployment. One solution for mitigating this requirement is to deploy a special instance of eDirectory, using Novell Nsure Identity Manager (formerly DirXML) to transform and synchronize data into the application-specific tree. However, prior to the upcoming Rosalind release of eDirectory, the solution requires the new instance of eDirectory to be deployed on a different host server ? which, particularly if the organization is using high-end hardware, can be very costly. With Rosalind, both instances (or more) can be hosted on a single server, allowing an organization to maximize its hardware investment.

Those are just a few examples of value of multi-instance support in eDirectory. Ultimately, it should provide businesses with much more flexible deployment options and the ability to maximize their investment in hardware, particularly high-end servers.

What do you think about this new feature? Do you have an example of the business value this capability might bring to your organization? Tell me about it at

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