Even at the smallest companies, the infrastructure needed to support the business is complex. From data centers to data stores, the technical footprint of a company can span the globe. There are internal applications, intranet applications, external federated applications (SAML, OAuth) and there are internal-corporate users and external-partner users that access these company resources on a daily basis. It is easy to see how securely combining all the pieces required to allow a business to run can be difficult task.
This is where a virtual directory server (VDS) can ease the “pain” while still maintaining security. A virtual directory server, like Optimal IdM’s Virtual Identity Server, can present a consolidated view of the data that spans the enterprise. For examples, the VDS can present a view to applications which makes the all the users appear to reside in the same data store, even though internal users may be in the corporate Active Directory store while external users are segregated in a database. This combined view makes a single deployment of an application available to the whole enterprise, thereby simplifying the architecture and maintenance. The virtual directory server’s ability to dynamically present a consolidated view, becomes invaluable in the case of mergers and acquisitions. When two companies merge, their existing corporate users reside in separate data stores (or directories) for some time while the technical details regarding combining the data is designed. This typically makes for a bad user experience, requiring users to use one set of credentials for one application and a different set of credentials for another. By placing a virtual directory server in front of the two directories, the users of both companies can begin to use corporate applications “day one”, as the merger details are worked out behind the scene.
The value of a virtual directory server does not end there. It can be used to virtualize data, prevent data leakage by acting as an LDAP proxy firewall, as well as providing detailed reports regarding data access. Typically an organization purchases a virtual directory server to solve one specific problem, but once in place, enterprise architects see its value and are able to utilize its full capabilities in other ways across the company.
Sure, a virtual directory server can’t make coffee or donuts, but it can make an enterprise run more efficiently and reduce costs.
How are you using a virtual directory server at your organization? What problem(s) does it solve?