Directory services are repositories for information about network-based
entities, such as applications, files, printers, and people. Directory
services are important because they provide a consistent way to
name, describe, locate, access, manage, and secure information
about these resources. Many vendors build specialized repositories
or directory services into their applications to enable the specific
functionality their customers require. As such, enterprise class
directories take an important step towards the consolidation of
corporate directories by offering standardsâ€”based interfaces allowing
for interoperability and centralized directory management.
Active Directory, which is an essential component of the Windows 2000 architecture, presents organizations with a directory service designed for distributed computing environments. Active Directory allows organizations to centrally manage and share information on network resources and users while acting as the central authority for network security. In addition to providing comprehensive directory services to a Windows environment, Active Directory is designed to be a consolidation point for isolating, migrating, centrally managing, and reducing the number of directories that companies require.