Integrating with Active Directory for Free

Michael Vizard

In the history of enterprise software, the offering that has arguably least lived up to its potential is Microsoft Active Directory.

Deployed just about everywhere, most IT organizations today use Active Directory to control access to Windows files. But the potential for Active Directory as a hub for managing identity across the entire enterprise has never been realized. A big part of the reason for this is that managing Active Directory itself is a fairly manual process, and integrating it with operating systems other than Windows can be problematic.

But at least one company is trying to deal with the latter issue. Centrify is now giving away Centrify Express, a tool for integrating Linux and Macintosh systems with Active Directory. The free offering is a subset of the company's Centrify suite of identity management and access management software that the company wants to deliver for free in the hopes of raising more awareness about the potential of Active Directory as an identity management platform, according to Frank Cabri, vice president of marketing for Centrify.

From the perspective of the IT department, one of the handier features of Centrify Express is that it can also be used to discover any rogue Linux or Macintosh systems on the network. These systems are now part of the fabric of enterprise computing, so they should be treated as full network citizens.

Unfortunately, the owners of these systems are sometimes treated like corporate pariahs. What's required is an effective way to manage these systems alongside the preponderance of systems on the network that are still Windows based. And in many corporations, that means Active Directory is still the center of the network universe.  Some free integration software is a good first step toward making Linux and Macintosh equal citizens on those corporate networks.

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