Learning ILM

ILM is tricky to learn whichever way you approach it.

If you’re from a sys admin background, like me, then the dawning realisation that you have to code may come as rather a shock.

Even if you are from a development background you will need to gain an understanding of ILM language such as CS objects, Metaverse objects, provisioning, and synchronising. You will need to come to terms with ILM peculiarities, for instance how metaverse objects can only be written to under specific conditions, how the code runs several times for each object change, how you can’t predict the order it will run, and how you can’t run it stand-alone.

Add to this the fact that you also need a good understanding of the connected directories themselves, and I find I agree with this post by Brad Turner where he says that the best ILM/MIIS people come from a Directory Administration, and not a code development, background.

But enough of that – how do you actually go about learning ILM?

Jump straight in and try to figure it out

The method beloved of techie-types the world over – we’re smart, we know computers, heck it’s a Microsoft product after all, how hard can it be??

Answer: Hard. And, btw, Microsoft didn’t write it, they bought the company. It might have been a while back, but it’s suprising how little Microsoft-ised the product is today. (They’re working on that.)


This is the usual advice – but unfortunately, in the case of ILM/MIIS, the FM is not remotely newbie-friendly. In fact it’s got to be about the most jargon-ridden example of too much detail leading to no understanding, that I have ever attempted to read.

It’s also still only available in the MIIS 2003 version – though don’t let that put you off as ILM 2007 and MIIS 2003 are basically the same thing.

The Walkthroughs (Self-Training)

The FM does, however, contain some gems – one of them being the Walkthroughs. If you want to teach yourself ILM then the Walkthroughs are the absolute best place to start. Don’t be put off by the examples being SQL and AD when what you really want is Oracle and Netware – that’s not the point! You will learn about how the components of ILM work together, and about how the code works, and then you can apply these lessons to what you really want to do.

So book yourself a few days of uninterrupted time, build yourself a virtual test environment, and do the Walkthroughs. I guarantee this will be quicker, and less painful in the long-run, than jumping straight in with some downloaded code snippets and no understanding.

Training Courses

There is a Microsoft training course at the beginner level:-MS2731 Deploying and Managing Microsoft Identity Integration Server (MIIS) 2003.

Be warned, however, that taught by a trainer with no actual ILM/MIIS experience, you may find this completely useless. Make sure you ask about the trainer before you book. For my money, they can go hang their Microsoft Certified Trainer on the nearest loo wall – what counts here is real-world experience.

Highly recommended are the courses (beginner and advanced) offered by Oxford Computing Group where you will be taught by experts of the highest calibre. Check their website for course schedules and locations.

Finally you may be able to arrange a workshop or on-the-job training with a local consultancy firm such as the one that I work for (if you happen to be in Switzerland). Again, check their credentials and ask for references as experienced ILM consultants still remain thin on the ground.

Good luck!