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What is a Directory Server, Directory Service and Active Directory

Updated on April 29, 2013
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What is a Directory Server: Article Summary

The article contains the definition of what is a directory server, and also contains an answer about the question what is a directory service. The definition of an active directory is also given as well as the main difference between a directory server and a directory service.

Definition of a Directory Server

Directory server is a very powerful server too compare to other kinds of servers. It can even integrate the information of other servers inside its system, such as database server and DNS server or any other kinds of servers for that matter, as long as they are part of an active directory. Directory server is defined as a kind of computer application that pools all the resources inside the network. These resources may include client’s computers and devices, available computer applications in the network, and user’s information such as e-mail addresses, log in privileges and authorization. Directory server can be considered as the one which is on the top of the servers’ hierarchy, because it governs all the network information and data’s. The best example for a directory server is the Sun Java System Directory Server, which provides LDAP server, Java server and console, multiple plug-ins, command line tools and initial directory information tree for server configuration. These features are all installed after the Sun Java System Directory Server is installed in a high-performing computer inside the network. All these said features can be used for managing and organizing the data deposited inside the directory server. More information about Sun Java System Server can be found here.

What is a Directory Service

Directory service is a kind of a software system that is intended for name spacing or mapping the names of objects or resources inside the network and give them their specific network addresses. For example, one of the directory services of the Sun Java System Directory Server is to manage user’s information such as name, position, e-mail address, username, password, contracts etc. of an employee, clients or suppliers. Directory service maps those data in order to identify them, manage them and locate them inside the network. Though, it may sounds like what a database server do, but it is different in many ways like the directory service has hierarchical naming model, extended search capability, distributed information model, replicated data’s and many more, which a database server does not. So, by knowing this, at least we can pinpoint on what is the difference between a directory server and a directory service. One thing that is also worthy to know about the directory server and directory service is the association of the active directory. So, what is actually an active directory?

Definition of an Active Directory

Active directory is a hierarchy of data's inside the network. One of the best example is the active directory developed by Microsoft in 1999 that was first released in Windows NT Server. This active directory is available on Windows Server Operating System that is used in Windows domain network. Active directory also has its own framework, which includes the so called forest, tress and domain as a form of logical division and identification. Forest is at the top of the hierarchy, it is the collection of the tress inside a network. Tress is a pool of domains or objects that are available inside the network. Because of its vast data's and information it carries, an active directory is a great opportunity for the users to access all the network's resources in just a single log in.


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