The identity management landscape continues to grow more complicated by the day with so many new solutions being delivered. Many of these solutions owe their start to the LDAP protocol and the associated LDAP servers that came before. Of the server solutions that leverage the LDAP protocol, perhaps the most popular of them all is OpenLDAP™. In this article, we’ll provide a detailed overview of OpenLDAP.
From LDAP to OpenLDAP
The LDAP protocol was created by Tim Howes and his colleagues at the University of Michigan in the early 1990s. What made it successful was that it was a lightweight version/variant of the standard directory services protocol at that time, X.500. LDAP utilized the client/server architecture model, so it required both types of components to make the protocol work and ultimately, be adopted by enterprises and organizations around the world. One of the earliest examples of an LDAP server was OpenLDAP. As an open source platform, its open nature made it possible for clients to connect to it. As a result, OpenLDAP would quickly make a mark in the identity and access management (IAM) game.
90s Babies: AD and OpenLDAP
As we know, OpenLDAP wasn’t the only directory services solution making its start in the late 1990s; Microsoft introduced Active Directory® (AD) in 1999. AD would go on to become the on-prem market share leader for Windows®-based networks—dominance that continues to this day. When you consider the fact that Windows owned the operating system space, it makes sense that a Windows-based tool would be used to manage those systems and users. But, because Microsoft had a tight grip over Active Directory, utilizing it for different systems and protocols required a lot of hard work on the part of IT admins.
For non-Windows environments featuring Unix/Linux®-based systems, on the other hand, OpenLDAP effectively served as the counterpart to Active Directory. While it was not designed to work exclusively with Linux/Unix systems and users, its flexibility enabled it to thrive in those environments. OpenLDAP would go on to become extremely useful in the data (Read more…)