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Active Directory Directory Services

The Directory

The Directory is a stored collection of information about objects that are related in some way or another. It identifies all resources on a network. It makes network resources accessible to users and applications.

The Directory is scalable from a small installation to a huge one. It can expand as an organization grows.

The Directory stores resources such as:

  • user data
  • printers
  • servers
  • databases
  • groups
  • computers
  • security policies
These resources are known as objects. By organizing itself into sections, the directory of each domain can store as many as 10 million objects.

Directory Service

Active Directory makes up the directory service. It stores information in a centralized location. A directory service is both the source of the information and what makes the information available to users. A directory service both manages the identities and negotiates the resource relationships between resources. In order to ensure the integrity and privacy of the network, a directory service must be integrated with the management and security of the operating system.

Novell and Banyan have used directory services for years. Active Directory Directory Services has features and terminology that are very similar to that of Novell Directory Services(NDS). It can share information with Novell NDS.


Active Directory Directory Services separates the logical structure of the domain hierarchy from the physical structure. You organize resources in a logical structure. This enables you to find a resource by its name rather than by its physical location. The network's physical structure becomes transparent to users. A network resource is represented by a distinct named set of attributes and called an “object”.


An administrator can log on to one computer and administer objects on any computer in the network.


A domain is a logical grouping of servers and other network resources under a single domain name. In domains resources are organized hierarchically. Each domain includes one or more domain controllers.

A domain controller stores a complete replica of the domain directory. All domain controllers in the domain are peers. If you make a change to any domain controller it will replicate to all domain controllers in the domain.


Active Directory uses DNS for its name system. Active Directory Directory Services can exchange information with any application or directory that uses Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP) or HTTP. You must install and configure the DNS Service for Active Directory to work.

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Revised: Friday, September 17, 2004 10:56:03 AM