Basic Features of NDS and AD - Page 2

By Drew Bird | Posted Dec 21, 2000
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Installation

NDS is typically installed during the NetWare server installation. After the text-based portion of the setup has been completed, the NetWare install switches into an X-Window graphical system for the remainder of the system setup. The screens are easy to follow, but realistically you already need to have some understanding of directory services and NDS to complete the setup. A useful and informative help system is available during the NDS configuration, but it does assume a certain level of knowledge.

In contrast, the AD creation wizard does a very good job of explaining what is happening and which decisions need to be made and why. AD relies heavily on the Domain Name Service (DNS), and so it will create and configure a DNS server as part of the installation process if it isn't already installed. You could argue that anyone setting up a server that will be used in a directory services environment should know what they are doing before starting out--but how often have you had to approach a new product and technology with little background information? If you find yourself in such a situation, the added information that the AD wizard provides is reassuring. The wizard is run as part of the Windows 2000 server configuration, which runs automatically after the Advanced Server installation is complete.

AD differs from NDS in that in a small environment, you can elect to not use AD at all--you can stay with local users and groups. This is a great feature for those who do not want to concern themselves with directory services. NDS doesn't give you this option, although a simple tree is easy enough to administer with just a basic level of knowledge.

Administrative Tools

The tools supplied by Microsoft for managing AD and related objects are excellent and straightforward to use. Separate utilities are available for such things as User/Group Management, Active Directory Sites and Services, and Active Directory Domains and Trusts. Administration of printing is performed through Control Panel on a server-by-server basis, and file management tasks are completed through the familiar Windows Explorer. The only issue I have with the AD-related utilities is that at times it's easy to get lost in them; but once you are reasonably familiar with the utilities and what is performed where, they're fine. Windows 2000's use of the Microsoft Management Console (MMC) provides a uniform look to the different utilities and an easy way for new utilities to be added. It would appear that Microsoft favors the approach of using separate utilities for a task or group of tasks.

NDS, on the other hand, has only three main administration utilities, two of which overlap each other to a great extent. NetWare Administrator, which has been around since the beginning of NDS, is a 32-bit Windows-based application that provides the ability to manage users, groups, network file systems, printing, and almost every other conceivable network administration task from within one interface. It's a great tool, and as with the MMC, it has the ability to accept snap-in modules.

The second tool is the Java-based Console One utility. It has the same basic functionality as NetWare Administrator, with the exception of some features such as certain security settings. Being Java-based, it can be run either on a NetWare Server or on a Windows workstation. Both versions are slower than NetWare Administrator; the server-based implementation is slow enough to make me not want to use it unless absolutely necessary. Even so, it is useful to be able to work on the file system from the server--a feature that many NT/2000 administrators take for granted, but which has only been available to NetWare administrators since the introduction of ConsoleOne with NetWare 5.0.

NDS also comes with a third utility: NDS Manager. This 32-bit Windows-based utility is used to perform high-level management and administration tasks on the NDS structure. It is so easy to use that the importance of the task being performed can sometimes be underestimated.

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