Microsoft has finally placed a definitive stake in the lucrative identity management market by unveiling a revamped version of its Meta Directory product, dubbed Microsoft Identity Integration Server 2003.
In conjunction with its new offering, Microsoft also introduced Identity and Access Management Solution Accelerator, a new set of prescriptive guidelines created with Pricewaterhouse Coopers to help customers build and test identity management infrastructures. Partnerships with Oblix and OpenNetworks Technologies will help extend Microsoft's reach to cross-platform levels as well.
Microsoft Identity Integration Server (MIIS) improves upon the software giant's Meta Directory Server through the addition of new features including automated account provisioning, the synchronisation of identity information, and Web-based self-service password management capabilities, lead product manager for Windows Server Division for Microsoft, Michael Stevenson, said.
As part of its fledgling identity management strategy, Microsoft rolled out new offerings for Windows Server 2003, which will appear by the end of the third quarter.
For customers desiring a directory service to provide application specific information toward applications developed in-house, Microsoft announced its new Active Directory in Application Mode (ADAM).
Stevenson said ADAM would allow customers to deploy Active Directory as a LDAP directory service for application-specific data while using their distributed Active Directory infrastructure for single-sign-on.
Windows Server 2003 will also include the Identity Integration Feature Pack for Windows Server Directory, and Directory Services Mark-up Language version 2.0 (DSML v.2).
The added capabilities will let developers represent directory structural information and directory operations as XML documents. In addition, Microsoft plans to introduce Microsoft Audit Collection System in the fourth quarter of 2003. A key component of Microsoft's identity management strategy, the product will enable customers to consolidate security event logs into a single location to offer intelligence capable of identifying a users' access.
As part of the announcement, Microsoft will also announce support and partnerships for Microsoft Identity Platform.
Stevenson said customers faithful to Windows Server as their central identity platform would be rewarded by carrying the investment forward through Microsoft's aggressive Web services security development - spearheaded by its WS-Security roadmap focusing on interoperable trust and identity services, standardisation - and be able to use the software as a federated ID tool.
Because of its position as one of the major stores of identity information for employees, and because it moves that data via the Web to partners and e-commerce customers, Microsoft recognised the need to move beyond Meta Directory synchronisation to apply rules-based provisioning and password management, analyst for Forrester Research, Johnathan Penn, said.
"People today, when they're serving their employees (utilising directories), they're doing so in a way that is inefficient and isn't standardised. It's error prone and there's very little auditing involved," Penn said.
"If they want to try to do that for business partners and customers they're going to need audit trails and compliance, accuracy, and better service through making changes faster and providing ways to empower the users to make changes themselves that are reflected instantly."
Penn said vendors equipped with broad portfolios pushing identity management, such as IBM and Novell, were sorely lacking tightly integrated products despite advertising otherwise.