A lot of intranet and portal projects aim to deliver functionality related to personalisation or customisation.
This may involve tailoring information based on staff role, delivering news relevant for specific offices, or limiting access to information based on seniority.
Any of these capabilities requires the system to know who staff are, the business unit they belong to, and where they sit in the real world.
Unfortunately, too many of these projects run aground before they start because a key piece of IT infrastructure has not been correctly put in place.
LDAP and Active Directory
Sitting invisibly behind the scenes in organisations is the ‘authentication’ platform run by IT. In simple terms, this contains the usernames and passwords staff use when they log on to their PCs each morning.
Over time, these details have been migrated into one of two standards: LDAP (an open industry standard) or Active Directory (the Microsoft variant of the same thing).
These expanded ‘directory services’ have the ability to store much more than just names and passwords. If configured to do so, they can contain all the information that is in the internal phone directory or staff directory, including job titles, business unit names, locations and more.
The most obvious benefit to come from putting in place these new standards is the progressive move towards ‘single sign-on’, allowing one username and password to be used across a wide range of corporate systems.
Crucially for intranet and portal projects, LDAP or Active Directory is also the source of the information needed to drive personalisation and customisation.
[CM Briefing 2008-03, read the full article]