Banyan cashes in on directory hype

Banyan cashes in on directory hype

Going back to the directory services well, Banyan Systems was this week scheduled to introduce a directory-enabled management tool to help companies give internal and external end users secure applications access via the World Wide Web.

The company's new SiteMinder product is not only designed to simplify a network manager's job, but also promises to make life easier for authorised end users by giving them single sign-on access to corporate applications across multivendor networks.

The directory services pioneer will also unveil Directory Advantage Services, a program under which the company will help customers plan, build and manage directory-enabled applications that take advantage of Internet technology.

The company best known for its StreetTalk directory is hoping to cash in on growing customer interest in using directory services to anchor corporate management and security schemes. Observers say Banyan, which has been on the financial comeback trail in recent months, is counting heavily on the services side of its business to generate new revenue and help complete its turnaround.

Exclusive agreement

Banyan declined to provide details on its upcoming announcements. However, the company did acknowledge that SiteMinder is based on technology from Netegrity in Massachussetts, with which Banyan recently signed an exclusive licensing agreement.

According to internal company documents, SiteMinder consists of policy server software that sits on a Windows NT or Unix box and provides ties to any Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP)-enabled directory service. Such services include StreetTalk, Novell Directory Services (NDS) and Microsoft's upcoming Active Directory Service.

The product will also ship with agents that reside on Web servers from Microsoft and Netscape, and the agents can communicate with the policy server software.

In addition, Banyan will ship an API tool kit that companies can use to build customised agents for connecting SiteMinder to their corporate applications.

One industry analyst says the usefulness of Banyan's SiteMinder could wear off quickly.

The product may provide a way for early extranet sites to establish a type of tiered access to corporate applications, says Jon Oltsik, a US-based analyst with Forrester Research. But the product could become redundant when corporate-wide directory services, such as NDS and Active Directory, begin to pick up similar capabilities.

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