BizTalk vs ILM (Identity Lifecycle Manager) ??


As the AD 2003 and Exchange 2003/2007 Administrator I am in charge of our new ILM server that we are building. However I have learned that our Programmers recently installed a BizTalk server. If anyone can help me learn the specific differences it would be greatly appreciated. Here's our needs:

Automate the creation, modification and deletion of AD accounts, Mailboxes, group membership, AD attributes, Home Directory folders (creation and permission modification) based on data that is in our Registrar's database (MS SQL 2000 and 2005). This also applies to changing SQL code based on other things changing (which would affect our programs which have SQL on the backend).

Account username and password synchronization - Single sign-on so that passwords for various apps are changed if you change it in another location.

Integrate custom scripts (VBS, Powershell, VB.NET, C++) if we want to add these.

I learned that they understand Biztalk to be able to do all this and yet while I'm reading about ILM i see that they're touting it as the product to use for this as well.

If anyone could help explain the differences between the two products, give advice about which to use, and point towards a resource that helps explain this I would greatly appreciate it.


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Michael WorshamStaff Infrastructure ArchitectCommented:
In all honesty, BizTalk is geared more for eCommerce and Data Messaging needs. ILM was created primarly to reduce the cost of managing the identity and access life cycle by providing a single view of a user's identity across the heterogeneous enterprise and through the automation of common tasks.

BizTalk helps organizations cost effectively manage their supply chain from the factory to the storefront. An end to end integrated supply chain allows organizations to drive maximum efficiency through visibility into critical business processes, and tighter collaboration with trading partners.

Here is a thread explaining the difference between BizTalk & ILM:


BizTalk is a Business Process Management Server designed to connect the people, processes and information that you need to effectively manage and grow your business.

Try to think of BizTalk as plumbing.  This 'plumbing' carries text between participants.

The participants could be companies, components, applications, parts of an operating system or just about anything which needs access to data!  Just as plumbing has an entry and exit point into buildings or containers, BizTalk also supports many protocols through which it can pass data including SMTP (email), FTP, HTTP, MSMQ (message queuing), EDI (electronic data interchange) and more.


ILM 2007 is a solution that builds on the metadirectory and user provisioning capabilities in Microsoft Identity Integration Server 2003 (MIIS) and adds new capabilities for managing strong credentials such as smart cards, providing an integrated approach that pulls together metadirectory, digital certificate and password management, and user provisioning across Windows and other enterprise systems.



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GCIT_ManagerAuthor Commented:
Thanks for the reply. Actually it's funny you should link that other thread because that's one I created last november and never heard back from the person after the initial reply.

Basically as an educational institution we have a best of breed situation with various SQL based applications (HR, Student Registrar, Finance, etc) and their goal with biztalk is to create work flows as you describe them so that as a process starts it can trigger updates and changes within other applications that don't natively talk to each other. They have already purchased it and there's no going back from that perspective.

What has thrown me for a loop is that on my side (AD/Exchange & SQL) we have ILM which can also synchronize data between two directories (like AD/Exchange and SQL) so my original hope was that based on HR and Registrar data it would trigger syncs over to AD/Exchange and in addition we could automate the things described in my original post.

The funny thing is that we have both at our disposal (lovely Campus Agreement pricing made this possible) and both aren't leaving. But I'm trying to nail down which is best to use for the pieces I described above. They're already going to use BizTalk for the workflow between all those other pieces and I'll be using ILM for our MIcrosoft Live @ Edu implementation so now it's us trying to figure out which to use for the pieces described in first post.

Thanks again.
Michael WorshamStaff Infrastructure ArchitectCommented:
I don't know if BizTalk can do AD/Exchange & SQL replication -- honestly never tried. In my past life as a BizTalk Architect, I utilized BizTalk to move an entire Oracle database to MS SQL, aligning up the schemas and migrating over the stored procedures and data from one platform to the next.

One thing you might want to try to see what BizTalk is capable of is to download from the Microsoft site a BizTalk Demo in VHD format and install it upon Microsoft Virtual Server 2005 build. In the demo, it has a number of examples on what you can do with the platform to see if its a fit for your environment, etc.

Microsoft BizTalk 2006 VHD
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GCIT_ManagerAuthor Commented:
yeah I was looking at their virtual labs and it doesn't seem to mention anything. Even searching biztalk + exchange in google groups doesn't bring up much in the last 2 versions of exchange. I'm beginning to think I should tell them that for doing process workflow between systems (outside of AD/Exchange) they should use biztalk but to let us use ILM for the account provisioning and management. I just have to see if ILM can watch for fields in SQL and then make/modify/delete AD/Exchange accounts based on that data.

Also do you know if BizTalk is good for password synchronization or is that an ILM part?


Michael WorshamStaff Infrastructure ArchitectCommented:
ILM would be best for that. BizTalk I know needs the SSO (Single Sign-On) portion to work [to login to SQL servers, etc], and if ILM handles that part as well -- then you pretty much got that part covered.
GCIT_ManagerAuthor Commented:
I'm not sure if this conclusion is definitive, but it's close enough for me to give you the credit. Thanks for the advice.
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