Microsoft Updates Active Directory Roadmap
Microsoft said Tuesday that it is making additions and changes to Windows Server
"Longhorn" and to Internet Explorer 7 to add capabilities to better
support security and identity protection.
The announcements came during Microsoft chairman and chief software architect
Bill Gates' keynote presentation to the audience at RSA Conference 2006
in San Jose, California.
First off, Microsoft is incorporating support for the Identity Metasystem industry
initiative into its products. According to a white paper posted on Microsoft's
site last May, Identity Metasystem is "a system of systems, which would
leverage the strengths of its constituent identity systems, provide interoperability
between them, and enable creation of a consistent and straightforward user interface
to them all."
This is because, the company says, adoption of a single digital
identity system or technology is unlikely to happen. Therefore, it
is necessary to construct an identity approach with the capability to connect
existing and future identity systems into an identity metasystem -- a platform-independent
architecture to help users and sites safely and privately exchange personal
In moving in that direction, Microsoft updated its roadmap for Active Directory
to reflect "expanded capabilities" coming in future versions of
Windows Server, beginning with Longhorn. Those capabilities will be evident
in the Beta 2 release of Windows Server Longhorn coming in the second quarter
of the year.
"Active Directory will evolve to provide users of Windows Server with
a single infrastructure with which to manage all of their identity and access
needs, including domain and directory services, strong credentials, access control,
single sign-on, federated identity, information rights protection, process automation
and auditing," according to Microsoft's statement.
Among the immediate changes will be a renaming of several existing features
of Active Directory and Windows. For instance, AD Application Mode -- often
referred to as ADAM -- will become AD Lightweight Directory Services. And Windows
Certificate Services becomes AD Certificate Services.
The company also announced the beginning of the first beta test cycle for Microsoft
Certificate Lifecycle Manager, a policy and workflow-driven solution for provisioning,
configuration, and management of digital certificates and smart cards.
Finally, Microsoft announced that IE 7 will include support for what it has
Microsoft plans to release InfoCard within the next year, which is a set of
technologies built on the identity metasystem, to simplify and improve the safety
of accessing resources and sharing personal information on the Internet. It
will also ship a new version of the Active Directory directory service, which
will include an identity provider that integrates with the identity metasystem.
Stuart J. Johnston has covered technology, especially Microsoft, since February 1988 for InfoWorld, Computerworld, Information Week, and PC World, as well as for Enterprise Developer, XML & Web Services, and .NET magazines.