Siemens and Fischer bring metadirectory to mainframe

The metadirectory is getting a metaplatform.

Siemens AG and Fischer International Systems Corp. have teamed to deliver a metadirectory for IBM OS/390 and z/OS mainframes, which means big-iron users won’t need to create a separate infrastructure just to deploy an overarching directory implementation. And the powerful mainframe, with its attention to transactional integrity, is a natural for the transactional loads put on a metadirectory.

Next month, the two vendors will release Prio, a suite of products that includes the Siemens DirX directory based on X.500 and the Lightweight Directory Access Protocol, the Siemens DirXmetahub metadirectory and a collection of Fischer’s SureSync connectors for systems such as Lotus Notes, Microsoft Exchange, Novell’s eDirectory and iPlanet Directory Server.

Management advantage

A metadirectory is a centralized hub that collects data from any number of other directories and data repositories, and joins them together into a logical whole to minimize management of end users and data.

The Siemens directory and metahub currently run on Windows and Unix systems, which can incorporate data from a mainframe. Now, the powerful mainframe platform can be used to handle the hefty storage, data update and synchronization requirements of running a metadirectory.

Prio aims to make the mainframe the hub of an enterprise directory that can pull together, or “join,” all the information scattered across various data sources and corporate directories, including Microsoft Corp.’s Active Directory and those from Novell Inc. and iPlanet E-Commerce Solutions.

“If you have a 390 infrastructure, you can now throw it into the mix,” says Michael Hoch, an analyst with the Aberdeen Group. “The fact that you now have a metadirectory for that platform makes it just that much more flexible.”

The intent of Prio is not to foster mainframe sales, but to serve an existing customer base in the financial, healthcare and insurance industries, according to Art Burton, president of Fischer, which has more than 15 years of experience working with mainframe technology. “The idea is that the customer base won’t have to make an additional infrastructure investment to build a metadirectory.”

IBM abandoned its off-the-shelf SecureWay metadirectory for the mainframe, but still makes it available through its Global Services consulting division. There are no other commercial metadirectories for the mainframe.

“This creates a highly reliable and scalable platform that can handle thousands of transactions,” says Peter Schnitter, president of the metadirectory business unit for Siemens. “But it also is a place to support other services that rely on the directory, like [public-key infrastructure].”

Schnitter says the metadirectory also would be able to scale to tens of millions of entries.

The Prio metadirectory is expected to ship in mid-September. Both Fischer and Siemens will offer consulting services for the deployment of Prio. Pricing has not been announced.

Siemens:; Fischer: