What is a Directory Service? What is its relationship with LDAP?
The Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP) is an open, vendor-neutral, industry standard application protocol for accessing and maintaining distributed directory information services over an Internet Protocol (IP) network. Directory services play an important role in developing intranet and Internet applications by allowing the sharing of information about users, systems, networks, services, and applications throughout the network. As examples, directory services may provide any organized set of records, often with a hierarchical structure, such as a corporate email directory. Similarly, a telephone directory is a list of subscribers with an address and a phone number.
- OpenLDAP (OpenLDAP public license) http://www.openldap.org
- SunOne (iPlanet) Directory Server
- Novell’s eDirectory
- IBM Directory Server
- Microsoft Active Directory
- Lotus Domino
- Critical Path
Active Directory (AD) is a directory service that Microsoft developed for Windows domain networks. It is included in most Windows Server operating systems as a set of processes and services. Initially, Active Directory was only in charge of centralized domain management. Starting with Windows Server 2008, however, Active Directory became an umbrella title for a broad range of directory-based identity-related services.
A server running Active Directory Domain Services (AD DS) is called a domain controller. It authenticates and authorizes all users and computers in a Windows domain type network—assigning and enforcing security policies for all computers and installing or updating software. For example, when a user logs into a computer that is part of a Windows domain, Active Directory checks the submitted password and determines whether the user is a system administrator or normal user.
Active Directory uses Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP) versions 2 and 3, Microsoft’s version of Kerberos, and DNS.