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Can virtual directory services ease messy Active Directory management?

Enterprises have often struggled to manage the messy mishmash of products and tools encompassing enterprise identity systems, and the decreasing effectiveness of enterprise perimeter defenses may be increasing the urgency.

According to Dieter Schuller, vice president of sales and business development at Novato, Calif.-based enterprise federated identity vendor Radiant Logic Inc., identity consumption has become a particularly thorny proposition now that disparate users, cloud-based systems and consumer-owned devices have become standard in many enterprises.

Schuller believes those issues, combined with the complexity inherent in legacy Active Directory implementations, require a new approach: virtual directory services.

In this interview, recorded in San Francisco at the 2014 RSA Conference, Schuller discusses the role virtual directory services can play as the conduit among multiple identity repositories with varying schemas, giving enterprises the tools to rationalize and map identity data in a way that makes it available to a variety of traditional, cloud and mobile use cases without costly custom integration.

"Rationalizing and mapping is a very difficult process," Schuller said, "because it involves, for example, understanding that I have the same user in different places, but they have different user IDs. If I want to [enable] single sign-on, I have to be able to pass the right identifier for that user to the right application."

Schuller further details how virtual directory services serve as a flexible abstraction layer between existing identity systems and the applications that consume identity data. He also discusses why enterprise identity management is of growing importance to business leaders.

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