Group Management

By Cameron Sturdevant  |  Posted 2010-07-22 Print this article Print


FIM 2010 is a Web service and synchronization platform. One of the first steps I took in my evaluation of the product was to use FIM 2010 to create dynamic groups based on user attributes. This feature uses FIM 2010 integration with Microsoft Exchange and Outlook to automate the approval process. I was able to create a workflow that granted access to customer data when approval was granted by a specific manager. It was easy enough to create a process in FIM 2010 that accomplished this process in the same way that knowing how my car works I'm able to drive a rental car of a make and model that I've never driven. Those who have a passing familiarity with identity management tools should, however haltingly at first, be able to pick up the basics without much trouble.

IT professionals who have a basic understanding of the business needs of their organization can use FIM 2010 to automate group creation and management workflows. While the workflow logic is flexible and allows for fairly sophisticated selection and approval criteria, the learning curve will likely be short for most IT staff. Mastering the group management and creation tools will likely be one of the keys to seeing a return on investment when using FIM 2010. Organizations where staff tends to quickly move into and out of groups will especially benefit from FIM 2010 group management tools. 

Group management is an area that benefited from lowering the expertise level required to operate FIM 2010. What was likely a developer job in Microsoft ILM 2007 is now a- somewhat tricky- wizard-driven operation to map attributes used in a human resources application to those used in FIM 2010. Basically, I used the FIM Synchronization Service Manager to create an attribute management agent to automate the import of human resource information about employees into FIM 2010. The tricky part is that they rather poorly designed wizard interface basically hides the pairing process. Once I discovered that I had to constantly click back and forth between the source and destination pairing, the process of configuring the management agent went from bewildering to annoying. The amount of clicking needed to configure the management agent basically smoked my mousing finger.

The upside to this wizard is that Microsoft has indeed made it possible for an IT pro- as opposed to a developer or scripting expert- to configure the management agent. This meant that I was able to bring employee data from my human resources system into FIM 2010, and after configuring a federated trust environment with a completely different test organization, assign these employees to groups with various levels of authority to view and use resources at both organizations.

Workflows that automated group membership have also been wizard-enabled so that business users can- with a minimum of training- create dynamic groups based on user attributes. I created several groups that used either a manual request, "managed by" or other criteria to create groups of users in my test environment. Although my tests used only Microsoft Outlook and Sharepoint for notification and resource examples, FIM 2010 can use other platforms including Lotus Notes. 

Cameron Sturdevant Cameron Sturdevant has been with the Labs since 1997, and before that paid his IT management dues at a software publishing firm working with several Fortune 100 companies. Cameron also spent two years with a database development firm, integrating applications with mainframe legacy programs. Cameron's areas of expertise include virtual and physical IT infrastructure, cloud computing, enterprise networking and mobility, with a focus on Android in the enterprise. In addition to reviews, Cameron has covered monolithic enterprise management systems throughout their lifecycles, providing the eWEEK reader with all-important history and context. Cameron takes special care in cultivating his IT manager contacts, to ensure that his reviews and analysis are grounded in real-world concern. Cameron is a regular speaker at Ziff-Davis Enterprise online and face-to-face events. Follow Cameron on Twitter at csturdevant, or reach him by email at

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