In a moved aimed at augmenting its directory portfolio, Microsoft Corp. today acquired metadirectory vendor, Zoomit Corp.
Microsoft, Redmond, Wash., plans to integrate Zoomit's technology into its own Active Directory and Windows2000 operating system, which are due to ship this fall. The terms of the deal were not disclosed.
"While directory services are the ideal long-term repository for identity management, customers are telling us that their identity data currently is fragmented throughout the enterprise," said Jim Allchin, senior vice president of the Personal and Business Systems Group at Microsoft, said in a statement.
The technology integration will allow customers to simply enterprise identity management, he added.
Zoomit, of Toronto, develops VIA 2.0, a metadirectory product that allows the integration of multiple unlike directories. VIA features data management agents for a range of directories, including Lotus cc:Mail, Lotus Notes, Microsoft Exchange, Microsoft NT Domain Controller, Novell Bindery and Banyan VINES.
The company employs 32 people, most of whom will move to Redmond and work with Microsoft. Zoomit founder and chief executive, Anand Bahl, will not transition to Microsoft. Bahl said he wants to pursue developments in the human interface design area.
"Its a management issue of identity management on the Internet," Bahl told CRN. "The problem right now is that different people have a different identity on different systems. There is no single identity of a person or object. The metadirectory ties them all together as one identity and still maintains the different relationships that they need to have."
Microsoft plans to offer a set of enterprise identity-management solutions based on ZOOMIT's technologies next year. It also plans to continue supporting VIA's customers, which include large Fortune 500 firms such as Exxon Corp. and Prudential Insurance Co.
Acting as a master directory, the metadirectory provide a key function to large organizations with directory data scattered about in various applications and repositories, said Ron Rassner, analyst at Creative Networks Inc., a market-research and consulting firm in Palo Alto, Calif.
"Most organizations are making decisions to go with metadirectories because NDS [Novell Inc.'s Novell Directory Services] is not a real metadirectory and [Microsoft Corp.'s] Active Directory is not shipping," said Rassner.
When CRN spoke with Jackson Shaw, Zoomit's vice president of sales this spring, he said the channel its a key element to driving widespread metadirectory and directory usage.
"Most of our sales are direct, but we want to shift toward channel-based sales," said Shaw. "The kind of customer looking at a metadirectory has several systems in place and they don't foresee transitioning to a single networking system to manage it all.
Jackson explains while many customers opted to write their own automated directory update programs in the past, the constant addition of new business applications makes it nearly impossible to do that today. "The typical situation is that they've added more systems and they don't have the ability to handle it. They don't want the cost of maintaining the code and people," he said.
"It's a VAR business, period," commented Rassner. "Even after Active Directory ships, it won't do everything for everybody. There is a tremendous void in the directory environment. It's a potentially lucrative market for VARs if they have the technology expertise to work with existing products or design one themselves."