SBN Redefining the Directory: An Interview with Tim Howes, Co-Creator of LDAP

The following article is associated with a JumpCloud webinar on the role of a directory in modern IT environments featuring entrepreneurs Stephen O’Grady, Principal Analyst & Co-founder of RedMonk, and Tim Howes, Computer Scientist & Co-creator of LDAP. Watch the full webinar recording here.

For those of you who don’t know Tim Howes, he has been on the frontlines of the tech industry since he co-created the Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP) in 1993. His work as a computer scientist and serial entrepreneur has helped shape modern IT, from LDAP to the SaaS and IaaS models we see today in many organizations. He has co-founded multiple successful startups, including enterprise software company Opsware, web browser company Rockmelt, and education management company Know Yourself. He currently serves as an angel investor and sits on JumpCloud’s Technical Advisory Board.

What made you start the LDAP project?

This goes back to the prehistory of directory, even before 1999. Some time in the early nineties at the University of Michigan, a couple of other people and I were given the task of moving us off of the campus mainframe system. One of the things we needed to replace, along with email and other things, was a directory system. I was essentially handed an open source version of X.500, which was the OSI directory standard at the time, and told to implement it for the campus. 

It was a bit of an impossible task because the machines most people had on their desktops, which were small PCs and Macs, were not really equipped to run the OSI stack. So my team and I developed a precursor to LDAP called DIXIE, which was just a very lightweight front end to the heavier-weight X.500, and people seemed to like that. I was approached by some people in the Internet Engineering Task Force who said, “Hey, why don’t you come work with us to make a standardized version,” which became LDAP.

How did the creation of DIXIE impact the overall adoption of LDAP?

I would say there were two transition points. One (Read more...)

*** This is a Security Bloggers Network syndicated blog from Blog – JumpCloud authored by Kelsey Kinzer. Read the original post at: https://jumpcloud.com/blog/redefining-the-directory-an-interview-with-tim-howes-co-creator-of-ldap