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I. ACTIVE DIRECTORY MANAGEMENT BASICS.1. Active Directory Overview.
II. ACTIVE DIRECTORY MANAGEMENT INTERFACES.
III. ACTIVE DIRECTORY MANAGEMENT COMPONENTS.
In the fast-paced world of information technology (IT), staying on top of changes in the industry can be difficult, not to mention time consuming and costly. Proper staffing, training, and planning to handle migrations from old to new technologies have caused IT engineers, managers, and end users many headaches over the years. Microsoft has definitely played a part in solidifying the workforce of IT consultants by rapidly evolving its product line. Most products developed by Microsoft have a one- to three-year life expectancy with new versions or updates typically being released every few months. This does not allow a lot of time to get properly acclimated and adjusted both from a staffing and infrastructure perspective before a new version is released. Microsoft is not completely to blame for the speed of product evolution since the industry as a whole often dictates changes by introducing new technologies. A good example of this is the Extensible Markup Language (XML). As XML has gained more industry acceptance over the past few years, it has become almost a requirement for products to use it if they require data interchange between systems.
One of the biggest challenges for architects and implementers of new technologies is finding accurate and adequate information. Without proper information about a technology, implementation can be delayed and potentially done incorrectly. This results in further redeployments and migrations and eventually more frustration for the user base! Because Active Directory touches so many facets of a company's infrastructure, we cannot stress enough that implementing Active Directory right the first time is of utmost importance. Mistakes madenow will be felt for years to come.
In 1999 and 2000, informative data on Active Directory was not easy to come by, primarily because Windows 2000, the operating system which Active Directory runs on, had just been released. Authoritative books, magazine articles, white papers, and Web sites were few and far between. A lot of the published information was either inadequate or downright technically wrong. Now, information on Active Directory is much more abundant. In fact, there has been such an explosion of Windows 2000 and Active Directory-related books, magazines and Web sites that it can be difficult to find exactly what you are looking for. It is our hope that this book provides some fresh data, specifically on the management aspects of Active Directory from two people that have been living and breathing Active Directory at a large, global, and dynamic company, namely Cisco Systems, for the past two years.
To date, there has not been much information published on the topic of managing Active Directory. The primary reason is people are still trying to figure out how to do it. Managing an Active Directory infrastructure is not an easy task at any level. Not only do you have to manage the typical Network Operating System (NOS)-based tasks as you did with NT 4, but Active Directory's reach extends to functions like the Domain Name System (DNS), Public Key Infrastructure (PKI), networking topology, and application directory. Typically, different groups within a company control these services, so properly designing Active Directory involves bringing together many groups that may not be familiar with each other.
Because of the integration with so many other technologies, we believe Active Directory will be one of the top two or three most important infrastructures within a company's IT department, next to the company's external Web site and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems. And because of this integration, we feel Active Directory will be one of the most complex technologies to implement and manage. Not only are there a large number of technical issues related to making Active Directory work, but significant political issues are associated with trying to work with multiple groups that are sometimes geographically and organizationally dispersed.
This book is intended for Active Directory administrators who are versed in the basic concepts of Active Directory and are managing medium- and large-scale Active Directory infrastructures.
The programmatic aspects of managing Active Directory are explored extensively throughout this book, but you do not need significant programming experience to benefit from the code samples. Many of the samples discussed can be beneficial as is. For those with programming experience, the samples provide a good basis for filling your Active Directory management gaps.
This book is divided into four parts:
The first step in learning a new technology is to find the best resources for information. We do not intend to regurgitate a lot of information that is already available, so we will provide pointers in the Additional Resources section located at the end of each chapter, starting with Chapter 3. The Additional Resources sections will include any applicable books, Web sites, RFCs, or Microsoft documentation that may be useful for obtaining more information on a topic. In Appendix A, "Active Directory References," we provide information on the Active Directory-related books, Web sites, vendors we found useful while working with Active Directory.