FLAIM, or the FLexible and Adaptable Information Manager, is a proprietary indexed database format used by Novell for its eDirectory (NDS) and GroupWise products. The FLAIM engine is notable for its fast performance and extremely high scalability.

The system underlying FLAIM was originally developed for indexing and retrieving genealogical data. WordPerfect — based in Utah, home of the Mormon Church and the world's largest genealogy database — acquired the technology during the company's early-1990s heyday, and used it as the basis of the WordPerfect Communications Server, an early collaboration and office email tool. Novell bought WP in 1994, acquiring FLAIM and the WPCS system along with it, and WPCS (also known as WordPerfect Office) ultimately evolved into GroupWise.

Enter Novell Directory Services: at first a simple directory for managing multiple NetWare 4 servers, with the rise of the Internet and LDAP it became a valuable commodity, and by 1999 a typical large NDS database was outstripping the capacity of its original flat-file information store (Record Manager, or RECMAN). Novell realized that FLAIM, with its ancestry in genealogy, was perfectly optimized for searching and storing many small, interrelated objects in a tree-like architecture, so FLAIM became the data store for the eighth revision of NDS, known as eDirectory.

FLAIM allowed eDirectory to be ported to other platforms, including Windows 2000, Linux and various enterprise UNIX flavors. More importantly it gave the directory almost unlimited scalability, compared to competitors like Microsoft Active Directory (which uses ESE, a derivative of JET) or Netscape/Sun's directory (which runs on Informix): as of 2002 eDirectory has been demonstrated with a live tree containing more than 1,500,000,000 (1.5 billion) objects.


  • http://www.panug.org/meetings/04-2000b.htm
  • http://developer.novell.com/research/sections/netmanage/dirprimer/2001/october/p011001.htm

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