Radiant Logic, MaXware give directories a virtual twist
RadiantOne, MaXware Virtual Directory present a variety of data sources as one directory
Metadirectories and SSO (single sign-on) products tend to garner much of the attention in the directory arena, but directory virtualization is closing in. Virtual directories take data from multiple sources, including other directories and databases, and present that data as a single virtual directory. Rather than move data into a new database or directory, which is what a metadirectory does, the virtual directory presents data as links. As you might expect, a virtual directory could serve as a core component of an identity-based network infrastructure.
Among its many applications, a virtual directory can present customer data from an Oracle database as LDAP to support e-mail applications, or it can integrate data from databases with existing directory information. Virtual directories can present the data for millions of users without the performance issues of other directories. The challenge is to organize data and map what’s available in the different directories and databases to create a unified image. The tools in the two software products reviewed here make that much easier than it used to be.
Both MaXware’s Virtual Directory 7.0.9 and Radiant Logic’s RadiantOne 4.0 can gather data from multiple sources and present that data as a single virtual LDAP directory. Both display data in different formats, depending on the user. In a phone contact list, for example, interoffice users would see just an extension in the phone number field, whereas external users would see the full phone number.
Using these products will not be a simple process for most administrators. Data sources must be identified, fields selected, LDAP schemas created, and security models implemented in a process that combines the rigors of database design with those of directory creation. RadiantOne provides a schema inventory tool, a directory design tool, and synchronization capabilities with its virtual directory capability, for a more complete, all-in-one package. MaXware favors the component approach, with separate modules for data synchronization, metadirectory capability, provisioning, workflow, password management, and the virtual directory.
I tested both programs using a Microsoft Access 2000 database, Active Directory, NDS directories, and an LDAP directory. I mapped data between each directory and presented the data from the directories and the database as a single LDAP directory. Not having a million-plus record database, I couldn’t stress test these databases. Performance of these products is also difficult to characterize, especially in a lab environment. But after talking to customers and product managers, it is clear that either product will handle millions of database entries virtualized into a directory, as well as thousands of LDAP requests per second.
RadiantOne requires less low-level database and directory expertise, with discovery tools and an easier initial configuration. MaXware provides a broad range of capabilities at a lower initial cost in an à la carte configuration. Either product will allow you to present a broad range of directory and database information as a unified whole and to use it for a variety of applications. But only RadiantOne earns an Excellent rating by virtue of its greater ease-of-use and integrated set of tools.
MaXware Virtual Directory