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New Apache Directory Server Issued

There's a new open source LDAP server out on the block today, courtesy of the Apache Directory Server Project. The new release brings it a step closer to becoming a full project at the Apache Software Foundation (ASF).

ApacheDS 0.8 is a Java-based LDAP server currently under incubation by the open source Apache Software Foundation (ASF). The project began its life as the LDAPd Project at Sourceforge.

In his original proposal to the ASF for the Apache Directory Server Project, Alex Karasulu, project founder, noted the importance of directories to networks and distributed computing.

"Directories are no longer considered commodity products used to store a phonebook or list of users," Karasulu wrote. "Directories and LDAP have grown into a critical technology that will inevitably become a cornerstone of distributed systems."

ApacheDS 0.8 includes a number of performance and administration enhancements that expose all aspects of administration via a special system backend. The server frontend and the backend subsystem are both now independently embeddable, as well.

A server-side JNDI (Java Naming and Directory Interface) LDAP provider is also included. It allows for direct interaction with backend storage.

"This release contains what we feel is a working LDAP and X.500 platform," Alan Cabrera, ApacheDS contributor and community member, told internetnews.com, adding that an exciting addition is a Staged Event Driven Architecture (SEDA), which allows the server to handle very large concurrent loads.

Cabrera explained that the 0.8 release also brings the technology entirely under the ASF 2.0 license, whereas previously some pieces were not entirely compatible with that license. According to Cabrera, community support has also grown for the project.

If past ASF incubated projects are an indication, then ApacheDS' future prospects are quite bright. The Apache Geronimo Project, which began as an incubated project, is one such example noted by Cabrera.

"Like Geronimo, we hope that it will be actively used in large production environments," he said.

ApacheDS is still not quite complete, though. There is at least one critical feature that is still on the developers' to-do list: remote management via JMX. Providing management under JMX allows LDAP to be managed and monitored by third-party consoles (like Gluecode's JOE, for example).

"We feel that we have a great server," Cabrera said. "However, if you cannot manage and monitor it, then it's just a development toy. We want to be out there in large production environments, and we understand that this is a must-have feature to get us there."

One of the other major goal of the Apache DS team is to graduate from being an incubated project to becoming a full project. In Cabrera's opinion, the Apache incubation process has been a beneficial process for the project.

"We get assigned some great, seasoned mentors. They help us to grow our community, as well as provide pointers on our implementation and show where code may have already been written that is ASF friendly," Cabrera explained. "It can be trying at times, though; Apache is very strict about things, but their reasons are valid.

"And I think that the product, because of the licensing and ASF's care, makes it more attractive to end users and value-added developers," he added.