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In computing, a directory service is a structured repository of information about people and resources within an organization, facilitating management and communication.

Description[]

On a LAN or WAN, the directory service identifies all aspects of the network including users, software, hardware, and the various rights and policies assigned to each. As a result applications can access information without knowing where a particular resource is physically located, and users interact oblivious to the network topology and protocols.

To allow heterogeneous networks to share directory information, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) proposed a common structure called X.500. However, its complexity and lack of seamless Internet support led to the development of Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP) which has continued to evolve under the aegis of the IETF. Despite its name LDAP is too closely linked to X.500 to be considered "lightweight".[1]

History[]

LDAP was adopted by several companies such as Netscape Communications with its Netscape Directory Server, which became a de facto standard for directory services as Sun Java System Directory Server. Other LDAP compatible offerings include Novell Directory Services (NDS) and Microsoft's Active Directory. The Netscape and Novell products were made available for Windows NT and Unix platforms. Novell Directory Services also ran on Novell platforms. Microsoft's Active Directory was an integral part of Windows 2000 and was not made available for other platforms, though it can interface with directory services running on other systems.[1]

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