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What is Active Directory?

Level 14

Any growing organization needs some sort of directory service or database management to maintain and manage a smooth IT environment. When the IT environment grows it becomes hard to maintain and manage users, systems and servers. Windows Active Directory® (AD) was a tool designed by Microsoft® to as distributed management service to help manage the IT environment. Active Directory is designed as scalable multi-master database management system and it helps administrators to maintain their entire IT environment from a single source  from creating a new user to updating user systems and securing user logins.  There are also other directory services like Novell’s Directory Service (NDS), however, all directory services generally have the same features and benefits.  Because Windows server is most prominently used let’s just talk about Microsoft Active Directory.

Why implement Active directory?

Active Directory was introduced for the first time in Windows 2000 and it acts as a central hub that manages all network activities of user data and enables connecting different directory hubs together for an integrated IT environment. Without Active Directory, administrators may find it hard to manage a large IT enviornment.  Administrators need some kind of directory services in a growing organization to leverage the growing IT needs such as:

• Active Directory provides single top-down view of the entire IT infrastructure and it provides a single link to all users, groups, computers, printers, servers and applications.

• Active Directory acts as management framework for all domain controllers in the domain. It acts as a bridge between various domain controllers, and domains in the organization

• Active Directory provides secure login access for all users on the network. It allows administrators to allocate resources to users, administer email, and manages users and groups using group policies.

Beyond Active directory

• Active Directory is needed by various other IT tools and software for developing a robust IT infrastructure

• Active Directory can be used beyond being a centralized IT management tool. It can be used as a reliable tool for monitoring domain controllers.

• Application listing in Active Directory helps administrators to calculate and allocate appropriate resources to users

• User directory services help administrators understand how many users have logged in at a particular time. Using active directory with an event management tool can be used to monitor user activities.

• Active directory along with a helpdesk tool helps resolving ticketing and support issues

• WSUS and SCCM use active directory tool to check for inventories in user system and to push regular updates

Active Directory is like secondary root for a tree. As the tree grows, it needs additional root to support to support it similarly when IT environment grows directory services are needed to support and connect all elements in a growing network.  My next post on Active Directory will discuss what is needed to adequately support and monitor Active Directory.

1 Comment
Level 15

Educational and helpful.

About the Author
Like SolarWinds, I have roots in Oklahoma and have been fond of land grant schools as I went from Oklahoma State University, moving South to Texas A&M University.  Like my college career (accounting, political science, Russian language and then MBA), I have suffered ADD in my professional career moving from finance to strategy to product management and marketing.  I have, however, settled on the broad niche of systems management and have acquired knowledge in this space over the last 11 years. I was very happy to join the SolarWinds team in January 2012 and have been very impressed with the technology.  I look forward to engaging with this community.