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By Anne Chen  |  Posted 2002-11-04 Print this article Print

: The Bottom Line"> Facing tight times, however, IT managers have their eyes on the bottom line. Realizing this, Microsoft has made pricing for AD increasingly attractive as a way to lure users of Novell Inc.s eDirectory and Sun Microsystems Inc.s Sun ONE (Open Net Environment) Directory Server (formerly iPlanets) onto AD.

"Right now, cost is a big factor for many organizations, and Microsoft has very attractive e-business directory pricing," said Blum. "Active Directory is available for $2,000, while Sun and Novell start per-user pricing after you get past 200,000 entries."

BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina, which won eight awards when it released a Web portal with customer self-service applications in 1999, migrated from the iPlanet Directory Server to AD earlier this year because of the Microsoft products competitive pricing.

BlueCross BlueShield has almost 1 million customers in South Carolina. In addition, it allows people previously insured by the company to use the Web site to look up their health care information. As the organizations directory grew, so did potential future licensing costs for its iPlanet directory.

In February, Bry Curry, director of BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolinas .Net systems (which, Curry said, has nothing to do with the deployment of Microsofts .Net software), began looking at new options and decided to go with Windows 2000 and AD to cut anticipated future costs.

In May, with help from the DirectorySmart identity management system from OpenNetwork Technologies Inc., BlueCross BlueShield began the conversion. Work was completed by the end of June, and now BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolinas AD is accessed by the companys iPlanet Web servers whenever a user logs on to the Web site.

In addition to cost, compliance with LDAP 3.0 was a reason for moving to AD, said Curry, in Columbia. She added that AD/AMs ability to reside without being tied to the network operating system is compelling, but that Microsoft hasnt been persuasive. She is not looking into the use of Microsofts .Net server products at all right now.

Microsofts own licensing agreements may, in fact, stop some organizations from moving to .Net and AD/AM—at least for the time being.

At Inc., in Santa Monica, Calif., Oscar Mejia, manager of network engineering, completed a deployment of AD (as Edmunds.coms NOS-based directory) and Microsofts Exchange 2000 in March.

The migration, which took about six weeks, was aided mainly by documentation from Microsoft and the use of NetIQ Corp.s Domain Migration Administrator, Mejia said. The company is using AD for its LAN and has plans to use the LDAP features in Exchange 2000 to authenticate users on its intranet. Since Edmunds. com uses user name and nonencrypted passwords to enable log-on to its intranet, the authentication process will be further secured with Secure Sockets Layer encryption.

Mejia said he has no plans to move to .Net Server 2003 or to use AD/AM any time soon because recently paid licensing fees for Windows 2000 under Microsofts Software Assurance licensing plan. Edmunds. com is running .Net Server in a test environment but will continue to run Windows 2000 for two more years under its current licensing plan.

"We recently finished our migration to Active Directory and Exchange 2000 in March, and its not financially acceptable under our licensing terms to move to .Net Server," Mejia said. "Id also like people to test the products first."

So how fast should managers who waited on AD in the past move on to the platform once Windows .Net Server is released? Experts say the schedule should be determined by how aggressively an organization is moving forward with its deployment of .Net Server and other products that rely on AD, such as Exchange 2000 and other upcoming .Net offerings including Exchange 2003.

As a senior writer for eWEEK Labs, Anne writes articles pertaining to IT professionals and the best practices for technology implementation. Anne covers the deployment issues and the business drivers related to technologies including databases, wireless, security and network operating systems. Anne joined eWeek in 1999 as a writer for eWeek's eBiz Strategies section before moving over to Labs in 2001. Prior to eWeek, she covered business and technology at the San Jose Mercury News and at the Contra Costa Times.

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