Andrew Walls definition of today’s directory proliferation problem is quite appropriate: “I am Legion and we are many!”
Andrew talked about how virtual directories are “in fashion” these days. Interesting that when Andrew presented which vendors have a virtual directory that he put up Microsoft and IBM with question marks after them. His caution: Don’t assume that either of these vendors have these capabilities despite having info on their web site that they do. Andrew’s belief is that IBM and Microsoft don’t want their customers to look to another vendor to solve the virtual directory problem. I’m not sure about anyone else but I never believed either of these vendors had a virtual directory.
Andrew characterized meta-directory as storing data rather than fetching data like a virtual directory – and called them fundamentally the same. I disagree with this simple of a characterization but I certainly agree with Andrew’s statement that rapid deployment of a virtual directory is possible whereas in most cases you are not going to rapidly deploy a meta-directory.
Are meta-directory and virtual directory products melding – blurring the lines between themselves? Yes, and it’s high time that they did. Generally speaking, I think a customer can benefit from both of these technologies so why not use one product for that? Simple is always better. A virtual directory is the perfect veneer to stick on top of your directory infrastructure(s) because it allows you to swap underlying directory pieces in and out as your business changes.
And, I agree with Andrew’s comment that adding a virtual or meta-directory can hide the complexity of your infrastructure – it doesn’t fix it.