Thursday, March 30

Common Virtual Directory Scenarios

The discussion regarding possible uses for Virtual Directory is on-going. The following are 8 easy-to-understand scenarios for Virtual Directory in no particular order. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but I think it covers the simplest scenarios. I look forward to questions or comments.

  1. Protocol Translation - Provide access to relational and other non-standardized data over standard LDAP and Web Services protocols without altering the data.

  2. Web Service Enablement - Respond to identity data requests made via DSML, SPML or any other service-oriented data format (standards-based or custom).

  3. Multi-Repository Search - Enable a single search over standard protocols to return a single clean result-set containing identity data that resides in multiple repositories in multiple formats.

  4. Joined Identity View - Enable a search that returns a view of single identities that are comprised of data from multiple repositories. e.g.) A single user record is presented with name and phone number from the HR system and the email address from Active Directory.

  5. Permission-Based Results - Enable a customized view into a single data universe based on which application or which user is performing the search. e.g.) Employees inside the corporate firewall see a full view of fellow employees while customers accessing an external-facing application see a reduced set of attributes and phone number is formatted using the (toll-free + extension) format.

  6. Dynamic DIT - Build an on-the-fly Directory Information Tree based on identity data attributes. e.g.) The application calls for LDAP views based on job title so the virtual directory dynamically presents an OU for each job title in the database and presents employees within the appropriate OU based on their job title.

  7. Authentication - Enable pass-through authentication from a single point of entry into multiple identity data stores. e.g.) Authentication requests are directed to a single point. The Virtual Directory authenticates non-employees against a back-end Sun Directory and employees against Active Directory.

  8. Real-Time Data Access - Provide real-time access into back-end systems. Because requests are passed to the originating data source, the search results can be as real-time as required.


Virtual Directory technologies eliminate boundaries. Hassles related to LDAP object types, attribute definitions and other schema-related issues are eliminated by virtualizing the view into the backend identity stores. You're no longer limited by the existing data format or database branding. There's no requirement to migrate the data from a relational database into an LDAP directory in order to make the data LDAP- or Web Service- accessible.

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