Active Directory® directory service is the distributed directory service that is included with Microsoft® Windows Server™ 2003 and Microsoft Windows® 2000 Server operating systems. Active Directory enables centralized, secure management of an entire network, which might span a building, a city, or multiple locations throughout the world. Or in our case, across the NC State University campus.
In distributed computing environments, networked computers and other devices communicate over remote connections to accomplish tasks through client/server applications. Distributed environments require a central repository of information and integrated services that provide the means to manage network users, services, devices, and additional information that administrators want to store.
Organizations operating a distributed environment need to have a way to manage network resources and services. As the organization grows, the need for a secure and centralized management system becomes more critical.
A directory service provides a centralized location to store information in a distributed environment about networked devices and services and the people who use them. A directory service also implements the services that make this information available to users, computers, and applications. A directory service is both a database storage system (directory store) and a set of services that provide the means to securely add, modify, delete, and locate data in the directory store.