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Some Do's and Don'ts for Accessing the Global Catalog

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Active Directory (AD) is a tool that helps to bring your enterprise together. You can virtually slice and dice the enterprise as you see fit, by Business Unit, Department, Geography, or even a combination of them all. This article introduces you to a real-life solution provided to Henderson Global Investors by KPMG Consulting Inc (KCI). to achieve a fast and reliable mechanism for retrieving user information. It also provides you with some code samples to get you up and running.
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This article assumes that you are familiar with Active Directory and with LDAP queries. It will introduce you to some "best practices" and some real-life examples of accessing objects within Active Directory for extending your applications, whether these are intranet, extranet or just plain old Internet applications. Although this article is designed for the experiences gained in Web application development it doesn't prevent you from building a "fat" client application for accessing Active Directory.

Active Directory Overview

Active Directory (AD) is the latest and greatest implementation of a directory service from Microsoft. It offers some very cool and exciting features, and although it is complex, it is generally very easy to understand and to navigate your way around its interface.

Some of the more intricate ways of what and how AD works do not really become apparent until you try to start accessing AD programmatically.

By using the administration tools of AD, you are protected from a lot of the interdependences that lie under the hood. However, once it is just you and some raw code, you really begin to see how the whole product works, especially in a large distributed environment.

In this article, we will look at a real-life implementation of AD that was rolled out to a client of KPMG Consulting Incorporated (KCI) named AMP Henderson Global Investors (Henderson). We will take a look at the AD structure of Henderson, and how the intranet application (The Source) interacts with AD. But first, let's have a small introduction to the background of the Henderson development.

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