Consolidating Shared Services
Another type of consolidation that is rapidly gaining popularity is middleware or shared services consolidation. Over the last few years, companies have implemented shared services (such as file, print, authentication, and e-mail) in a variety of ways. Business units typically implement their own versions of these services using software from a variety of vendors; however, when they want to share some of this information, they find that the inconsistencies and incompatibilities among these various architectures increase complexity, thereby increasing cost and making it difficult to share. As a result, we often find that companies want to rebuild their shared services as web services using a standards-based, unified architecture such as Sun™ Open Net Environment (Sun ONE).
A common example of this is the use of directory services. Directory services have been implemented over the years using a variety of architectures. Now that standards based architectures are available, products like the Sun ONE Directory Server, which is based on the Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP), are being used to design and implement corporate-wide directory services. Condensing multiple, disparate directory architectures into a single, corporate architecture allows corporations to simplify directory maintenance and easily replicate directory services, as needed.
We expect to see more of this type of consolidation over the next few years.