Directory costs may sneak up on companies

Directory costs may sneak up on companies

The benefits of directory services to end users may get blindsided by the costs of tools needed to manage and integrate those services, according to a new study.

A report to be released this week by research firm Enterprise Management Associates (EMA) finds that directories could spawn nearly $US10 billion in corporate spending on management tools in the next two years.

"The directory promise has been to lighten IT's load, but what you are doing is putting more stress in their lives with this new critical system, so they will need to invest in directory management products," says Tony Bailey, who authored the EMA report.

Bailey predicts these management products will cost up to $50 per user.

EMA says $3 billion of that $10 billion will be spent on directory management tools for monitoring the directory, including infrastructure, data security and software for integrating corporate directories. The tools will help IT log functions such as synchronisation and replication performance, reporting, data integrity, system optimisation, and data tracking and management.

In addition, another $7 billion will be spent on directory-enabled products for management of network services such as IP addresses, policies, network configuration and VPNs.

"The directory needs a consistent level of management, and it's not optional," says Walter Boyd, president of Certified Network Solutions, a training and consulting firm. "It's critical because the directory will become central to everything you do. It's not only for authentication and security, but access to an increasing percentage of IT resources."

Fueling demand for these products is the record number of companies that will deploy directories during the next 12 months.

A recent report by Giga Information Group predicts the number of companies with directories deployed today will rise from approximately 35 per cent to 90 per cent by the end of 2001. Such adoption rates show that the directory is becoming a must-have system, but IT executives need to also consider the burdens of managing the directory, including monitoring its health and securing the data it holds.

While directories may help reduce IT administrative support staff in the field, companies will probably require an increase in the number of highly skilled administrators for the core system on the back end. Those positions are proving to be the most difficult and expensive to fill.

For many there will be no choice but to pay.

"As the directory supports business-critical systems, such as electronic commerce, you start to find that if the directory goes down you have no way to authenticate users," says Jonathan Penn, an analyst with Giga Information.

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