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HP's Open Arms For OpenLDAP

HP is taking a lead role in promoting and extending the open source OpenLDAP directory server into enterprise deployments.

The company has extended its relationship with Symas, one of the lead commercial sponsors of OpenLDAP, and will now be supporting and integrating it for HP customers.

The move elevates the status of OpenLDAP to become a more viable option for enterprises looking for an open source alternative to proprietary directory services on Unix, Linux and even Windows.

HP's new agreement with Symas extends an initial agreement dating back to August.

That deal involved HP including Symas's OpenLDAP "in-a-box" distribution, called Symas' Connexitor Directory Services, as part of HP's certified Linux Reference Architecture (LRA) application stack.

"August was really their statement of intention to engage with us; it wasn't really an announcement of an engagement," Marty Heyman president of Symas, told internetnews.com. "We're really excited because this new agreement set the stage for training of their internal support people and beginning to really educate their marketing and sales people in consulting and integration.

"It's the announcement that tells their people that they are really serious about doing business with us," Heyman continued. "Up till this point HP has been using it mostly internally."

As part of the new agreement, HP will sell subscriptions for Connexitor Directory Services, as well as provide integration and consulting services to help facilitate OpenLDAP implementations.

OpenLDAP isn't the only open source directory server out there anymore.

Red Hat has recently released its own Fedora Directory Server code, which was originally acquired from the AOL as Netscape Directory Server in September 2004.

Heyman views Red Hat's entry as a competitor, but not necessarily a hostile competitor. That being the case, though, neither Red Hat nor Novell currently has agreements with Symas for OpenLDAP support.

"We've talked to Red Hat explicitly, and they are not terribly interested. They provide all of their support in-house and we respect that," Heyman said.

According to Heyman, HP is really the most forward-looking in adopting "the true open source directory server." HP's own internal use of OpenLDAP and its support for the open source project have allowed it to overcome barriers to adoption.

"HP came to us with some things that they saw as barriers to adoption," Heyman said. "They paid us to develop the extensions and the enhancements and then put them back into OpenLDAP. And as a result of that, OpenLDAP is a much stronger platform as enterprises consider their current directory situation."

OpenLDAP is providing choice to a market that has long been dominated by proprietary directory players. Heyman noted that Symas is now seeing "tremendous interest" in true open source directories.

"We're seeing a number of very large enterprises coming to us reconsidering their directory strategy," Heyman said. "They adopted proprietary directories back when that was the only choice and now that OpenLDAP is as robust and scalable as any of the others, they are really taking a serious look at OpenLDAP as a way to reduce costs and get as good or better a platform."

It isn't just about directory services for Linux or Unix, either. Windows users are also within OpenLDAP's sight.

"Within the last six months, we've introduced Windows packages, which provide the full OpenLDAP capability," Heyman commented. "We see a very strong interest in it, we've seen a significant number of downloads and we're looking for significant commercial deployment."

Heyman admitted that Symas has not done any publicly quotable benchmarking of OpenLDAP vs. Microsoft's Active Directory. Though, he did say he expects that OpenLDAP is more scalable and more robust.

"OpenLDAP on Windows is a much better cross-platform heterogeneous solution for someone looking to use a directory in those environments."