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Part I: An Introduction to Directory Ser... > Directory Services Overview - Pg. 2

2 Chapter 1. Directory Services Overview The fact that you have picked up this book and started to read it suggests that you have some idea what a directory service is and what it can do for you. This chapter assumes you have an everyday understanding of directories and expands on that notion to answer three simple but important ques- tions: · What is a directory?In brief, a directory is a specialized database. In this chapter you'll learn what makes a directory specialized, what separates it from a traditional database, the defining characteristics of a directory, and why they are important. · What can a directory do for you?Directories can do many things, and you probably chose this book with some particular set of problems in mind that you'd like a directory to help you solve. We'll take you through the basic uses of a directory, many of which may have already occurred to you, as well as covering some more-advanced uses that may be new to you. · What isn't a directory?The answer to this question is sometimes even more important when defining a successful directory environment than learning what a directory is. In this chapter you'll learn what separates a directory from a file system, a Web server, and other things you have deployed on your network. The distinctions drawn here are crucial to narrowing the task of designing your directory service. This chapter aims to answer each of these questions in detail, formalizing the answers to give you a common understanding of the task before you: designing a directory service. You'll learn why directories are important, the scope of a directory solution, and what they can do for you. Armed with this knowledge, you'll be ready to read the rest of the book, which deals with the details of understanding, designing, deploying, maintaining, and finally making use of your very own directory service. We will use many terms throughout this book that may be new to you. A directory service is the collection of software, hardware, processes, policies, and administrative procedures involved in making the information in your directory available to the users of your directory. Your directory service includes at least the following components: · · · · · · · Information contained in the directory Software servers holding this information Software clients acting on behalf of users or other entities accessing this information The hardware on which these clients and servers run The supporting software, such as operating systems and device drivers The network infrastructure connecting clients to servers and servers to each other The policies governing who can access and update the directory, what can be stored in it, and so on · The procedures by which the directory service is maintained and monitored · The software used to maintain and monitor the directory service Directory Service Defined