NT Domains to Active Directory - Time to Upgrade? - Page 2

By Hallett German | Posted Jun 23, 2003
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The Birth of Active Directory

Active Directory was originally developed to replace the Windows NT domain controller software with a more scalable, powerful, and flexible technology that could compete directly with the feature-rich Novell Directory Service (NDS) product. Microsoft purchased Zoomit Corporation in 1999 to incorporate their Metadirectory Services directly into Active Directory.

The result was the release of Microsoft MetaDirectory Services (MMS), which provide data synchronization between Active Directory and a variety of other sources, including Microsoft Exchange and NT, third-party software like Novell NDS, databases such as Oracle, Lotus Notes, and common import formats like XML, CSV, and LDIF. Several subsequent releases have made further improvements to MMS and Active Directory applications.

Changes in Windows 2003 Server

There are some significant changes and enhancements to Active Directory in Windows 2003 Server that will be of particular interest to those considering converting from earlier versions. The most notable are:

  • Support for the standard inetOrgPerson schema used by other LDAP directories (such as iPlanet, Novell, IBM,and OpenLDAP). This improved interoperability between Active Directory and other non-Microsoft directories services can be an important feature in a large enterprise that might have a number of active ID management systems.

  • Better domain controller load balancing. Active Directory clients typically authenticate to the first domain controller, which can quickly overload that controller. In Windows 2003 Server, the domain controllers can simulate being a Windows NT domain controller. This is a great advantage because it means you can use your existing Windows NT domain controllers for Windows 2xxx clients and servers until your full AD infrastructure is in place.

Page 3: 'Active Directory Lite'

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