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  1. Directory Services
  2. What Is the Active Directory?
  3. An Administrative View of the Active Directory
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An Administrative View of the Active Directory

From a system administrator's perspective, the Active Directory provides many keys for success:

  • Because the Active Directory network is organized hierarchically, it is possible to more finitely organize the infrastructure for better management.

  • The capability to assign and delegate the administration of Windows 2000 to manageable elements is one of its major strengths. The Active Directory is responsible for managing the hierarchical structure of the domain, the child domain, and the organizational units with logical administrative boundaries.

  • The Active Directory provides a consolidated, single point for administration and system replication services.

  • The Active Directory includes support for a number of open standards (DNS and LDAP), rich APIs (using C/C++, Java, Visual Basic GUIs, and scripts), extensible schema, and streamlined object lookup and network login via the new Global Catalog.

  • The Active Directory provides easy migration and backward compatibility with earlier Windows NT versions and theoretical interoperability with NetWare and UNIX.

Based upon the use of objects and attributes, Active Directory forms associations.

The scope of the Active Directory can be as small or as large as required, and can contain every object and container within the domain tree. In essence, the Active Directory can scale from a single server to an extremely large enterprise network. The primary constraints are fast connectivity and security, discussed later.

In the next part of this series, we examine the Active Directory's structural components.

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