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NIS+ Architecture Overview

Sun introduced NIS+ as part of the Solaris 2 operating environment as a replacement for NIS. Several deficiencies in NIS were addressed in the NIS+ architecture. These included:

  • Lack of hierarchal namespace
  • Weak authentication
  • No incremental updates between master and slaves

At the time NIS was developed, Sun's major business focus was the technical computing market. A typical network of Sun systems consisted of a couple of servers and maybe 20-30 workstations that were used by engineers working on the same design project. Verifying the authenticity of a NIS client was not an issue since networks were small and everyone knew who was attached to it.

Because not many companies were wired end to end, the number of names stored in NIS maps was limited and there was little interaction with groups in different locations. A flat namespace, where one NIS domain is not related to another, was sufficient, and since the number of NIS map entries was relatively small, propagating whole maps from master to slave servers was not a major problem.

However, as Sun moved into corporate data centers and companies began creating wide area networks (WANs), networks became larger and the need for a more scalable business-wide naming service became obvious.

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