I am at Netpro's Directory Expert Conference in Chicago this week, and very excited to be here! I'm keeping my eyes and ears wide open for the latest tech and trends around Microsoft AD and Identity Management, and also participating at an experts panel this afternoon. Knowing that DEC is an action-packed event, I came a day early, and it was well worth it. Sunday's ramp-up to DEC 2008 was a pre-conference workshop on Microsoft Identity Lifecycle Manager (ILM) 2 beta, Certificate Lifecycle Manager (CLM), Active Directory Federation Services (ADFS) and Active Directory Rights Management Service (ADRMS). It was a hands-on lab experience given by David Lundell from the Oxford Computer Group, who did a brilliant job putting it together.

Microsoft's vision is to have Directory Services in the centre of a comprehensive infrastructure that supports Identity Lifecycle Management, Strong Authentication, information protection and federation. Harnessing the tools presented in this workshop, one can see where this is going. Although some of the components (specifically ILM 2) are still in beta and not expected to be released until the “second half of 2008”, the picture may still be a bit rough and blurred, but one can see that it will be quite a beautiful one, once completed.

I was particularly impressed by Certificate Lifecycle Manager (CLM), an add-on to ILM that facilitates string authentication, specifically in the area of smart cards. It seems that Microsoft has managed to add significant value to an area that is often notoriously difficult for many enterprises to implement. Starting with an abstraction layer to the underlying card's hardware stack to a comprehensive lifecycle implementation, CLM supports the full work-flow of the whole lifecycle of issuance, PIN reset, revocation and retirement. Self service is of course part of the offering and is streamlined for efficient and secure management from initial issuance to retirement and secure recycling. Just like the Dot Net Factory, Microsoft is harnessing the new Windows Workflow Foundation for all of its workflow management. For data flow, uses its MIIS meta-directory technology.

Just before the session closed, Microsoft's Bobby Gill gave us a “sneak peak” of some additional features of ILM 2 beta 3 “hot off the disk” that he compiled a few hours ago. It is obvious that many significant enhancements are still being made, and Microsoft is very actively involved with its beta partners to collect their feedback and make improvements before the official ILM 2 is released.

Back to keeping my eyes and ears open, and I shall be back soon with some more news from DEC 2008!