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-- by Joseph C. Panettieri
Novell and Microsoft rarely see eye-to-eye. So it's no surprise that their disparate views carry into the directory services arena, where the two software titans are taking decidedly different approaches.
While Novell is striving to make its Novell Directory Services (NDS) the de facto, cross-platform directory standard for NetWare, UNIX and Windows NT, Microsoft insists that businesses will never standardize on a single directory. Hence, the directory developers in Redmond are focused solely on the company's Active Directory for Windows NT.
NDS has the early advantage in the directory war. It's currently available for NetWare 4.x, as well as the Santa Cruz Operation's UnixWare (formerly owned by Novell). Future NDS versions will support SunSoft Solaris, Windows NT and perhaps IBM AIX UNIX.
Novell insiders admit they will need Microsoft's help if NDS is to integrate closely with Windows NT. Michael Simpson, director of marketing for Novell's Internet Infrastructure division, concedes, "It will be up to Microsoft and Microsoft's customers to determine how tightly integrated NDS will be with NT."
Microsoft so far isn't budging. Instead, the software giant is preparing Active Directory for Windows NT 5.0. Active Directory will support LDAP (Lightweight Directory Access Protocol) to communicate with other directories. It will also leverage Microsoft's Jet database engine (already used by Exchange Server), and support flexible naming, an extended schema, private and public key authentication (including Kerberos security), and server replication. Microsoft is also preparing a modeling tool that can migrate information from NDS to Active Directory.
While Novell's NDS for NT will likely arrive by midyear, Microsoft won't ship Active Directory (with NT 5.0) until at least late this year. In other words, Banyan's StreetTalk for NT has at least six months to prove itself before the fierce competition arrives.