Friday, March 21, 2008

Killing the Metadirectory

Kim Cameron comments today about my column ("Is the metadirectory dead?") which was inspired by Kim's erstwhile colleague Jackson Shaw's blog entry ("You won't have me to kick around anymore!") which included the lines: "Let's be honest. The meta-directory is dead. Approaches that look like a meta-directory are dead."

My interpretation is that the metadirectory has finally given way to the virtual directory as the synchronization engine for identity data. Kim interprets it differently. He talks about the "Identity Bus" and says that " still need identity providers. Isn’t that what directories do? You still need to transform and arbitrate claims, and distribute metadata. Isn’t metadirectory the most advanced technology for that? " And I have to answer, "no." The metadirectory is last century's technology and it's day is past.

The Virtual Directory, the "Directory as a Service" is the model for today and tomorrow. Data that is fresh, always available and available anywhere is what we need. The behemoth metadirectory with it's huge datastore and intricate synchronization schedule (yet is never quite up to date) are just not the right model for the nimble, agile world of today's service driven computing. But the "bus" Kim mentions could be a good analogy here - the metadirectory is a lumbering, diesel-spewing bus. The virtual directory? It's a zippy little Prius...

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