Do I Need Active Directory?

Active Directory is the database (think of a directory as a collection of information, like a phone book), whereas a domain controller is a single computer or server that controls Active Directory. There are typically multiple domain controllers that host Active Directory. How do you know if you need Active Directory? There are factors that you should address to determine whether you should defer installation of a domain controller. Following are some of the questions you should ask:

Do I want to centrally manage access to resources such as printers, users, and groups?
Do I want to control user accounts from one location?
Do I have applications that rely on Active Directory?

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you undoubtedly will want to take advantage of the features that Active Directory provides. Taking each one of the questions into account, you will find that your life as an administrator will be much easier if you use Active Directory over using no directory service whatsoever. The tools that become available when you implement Active Directory will ease your administrative load, although there is an inherent learning curve associated with any new technology.

If you answered “yes” to the last of the three questions just posed, you have no choice but to implement Active Directory. Most of the Active Directory–enabled applications on the market rely on the installation of a full version of Active Directory within your network. There are some Active Directory–enabled applications that can take advantage of using Active Directory Lightweight Directory Services (AD LDS) –based systems.

The first two questions relate to something for which administrators have strived over the years. Having one central location to manage users and resources makes an administrator’s life easier. If you have to continually move from server to server to administer the resources contained on them, you will spend more time tracking down the resources than you would performing your job. If you have to maintain user accounts on several systems, you must make sure you have an efficient method of cataloging the accounts so that you know where they reside.

With Windows 2000 Server, Windows Server 2003, and now Windows Server 2008, you can use Active Directory Domain Services (AD DS) as the central repository for user, group, and computer accounts as well as for shared folders and printers. Having the ability to manage these resources from any domain controller within your domain allows you to greatly reduce your administrative overhead.

Source of Information : Sybex Mastering Active Directory for Windows Server 2008

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