Understanding Microsoft Windows 2000 Distributed Services


Programmers and technical managers get a clear overview of Microsoft Transaction Server, the keystone to the service technologies that Microsoft is developing on top of Windows 2000. This readable, cogent overview of MTS architecture and related services also provides a clear understanding of how these technologies fit together in an enterprise's application strategies.

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Programmers and technical managers get a clear overview of Microsoft Transaction Server, the keystone to the service technologies that Microsoft is developing on top of Windows 2000. This readable, cogent overview of MTS architecture and related services also provides a clear understanding of how these technologies fit together in an enterprise's application strategies.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781572316874
  • Publisher: Microsoft Press
  • Publication date: 10/13/1999
  • Series: Developer Technology Series
  • Pages: 448
  • Product dimensions: 7.08 (w) x 8.97 (h) x 1.24 (d)

Meet the Author

David Chappell BA(Hons Arch), MA(Arch), MA(Law), PhD, RIBA has worked as an architect in the public and private sectors and is currently the Director of David Chappell Consultancy Ltd. He frequently acts as an adjudicator and is author of ten books on construction law for Blackwell Publishing.

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Chapter 1: The Windows 2000 Distributed Environment

What’s required to build an effective distributed environment? What does it take to transform a group of individual computers into a usable, manageable whole? Over the last twenty years or so, we in the computer industry have had plenty of experience with this problem, and perhaps the most important thing we’ve learned is that answering these questions is not simple. Distributed environments pose a number of difficult problems.

First, a distributed environment requires some kind of distributed infrastructure, complete with the services needed to make that environment usable. How is information about the people, computers, and applications in the environment made available? How are the services and information a distributed environment provides made accessible to the right users, yet kept inaccessible to the wrong users? Second, a distributed environment should allow the creation of distributed applications. Doing this well requires solving yet another set of hard problems. For example, how should these diverse pieces of software communicate? How will they find one another? How can scalable applications be created, applications that support many simultaneous users, Web-based and otherwise? Finally, an effective distributed environment implies the ability to manage a potentially large number of applications, computers, and users, spread around a building, a campus, or the entire world. Distributed management brings its own set of challenges that must be solved to create a workable environment.

Successfully creating an effective distributed environment requires using the right distributed services. MicrosoftWindows 2000, the successor to Windows NT 4.0, includes the most powerful group of distributed services ever bundled with a mainstream operating system. While similar services have been available from various vendors (including Microsoft) for several years, the release of Windows 2000 marks the first time a complete set has been made a standard part of the system. Accordingly, deploying Windows 2000 in all but the simplest configurations requires using the distributed services it includes. The goal of this book is to help you understand what those services are, what they have to offer, and how they fit together.

Defining Distributed Services

What exactly is a distributed service? Answering this question requires thinking first about how networks are organized. Nearly all networks today use several protocols simultaneously, organizing them into layers as shown in Figure 1-1.1 As the figure shows, the bottom layer contains various kinds of subnetworks, which are just ways to physically move bytes between machines. Example subnetworks include local area networks (LANs) such as Ethernet, wide area networks (WANs) such as frame relay networks, and various kinds of point-to-point connections such as T-1 and T-3 lines.

Figure 1-1 A typical network today organizes its protocols into layers.

Most organizations use several different kinds of subnetworks, so the next layer in the stack houses a protocol capable of routing data across diverse subnetworks. This function is commonly called internetworking, and the most widely used choice for this protocol today is the Internet Protocol (IP). But IP, like most internetworking protocols, is unreliable-it might lose some of the data it’s transferring. Accordingly, the transport layer protocol above it can add reliability, guaranteeing that whatever data is sent actually arrives at its destination. Not every application needs this reliability, though, so simpler transport layer protocols also exist that don’t guarantee delivery. Today’s most common choice for a reliable transport protocol is the Transmission Control Protocol (TCP), while the most popular choice for an unreliable transport protocol is the User Datagram Protocol (UDP).

The protocols described so far collectively provide a way to move bytes, perhaps reliably, between machines connected to any kind of subnetwork. If you’re a masochist, you can build a bare-bones distributed environment using only the services these protocols provide. For example, distributed applications can be built that access the transport protocol’s services directly through an application programming interface (API) named sockets. In the Microsoft environment, this API is called Windows Sockets or, more often, just Winsock. Winsock-based applications can be simple and fast, and plenty of them exist.

Yet creating an application directly on a transport protocol can be a little challenging-all the developer has to build on is a way to move bytes between machines. Trying to create a true distributed environment with only a basic byte transfer service to work with is nobody’s idea of a good time. Instead, distributed services built on top of some transport protocol can underlie an application and provide an infrastructure for a distributed environment. Because distributed services are implemented between-that is, in the middle of-a distributed application and the transport layer, they’re sometimes called middleware. Whatever they’re called, however, a powerful set of distributed services helps immeasurably in building an effective distributed environment.

What should those distributed services be? Reasonable people can disagree on the answer, but it’s sometimes useful to think of the essential distributed services as falling into two broad categories:

  • Infrastructure services  This category includes directory services that make it easier to find resources in a distributed environment and security services that control access to information and services in that environment. One might easily argue that many other technologies also fall into this category, but to keep this book to a manageable length, I’ve chosen to focus on directory and security services.
  • Application support services  The group of services in this category support building distributed applications using remote procedure calls (RPCs), message queuing, or Web-based access via the Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP). This category also includes services that make it easier to build more scalable and correct distributed applications, such as services for performing transactions involving multiple databases.

Some of the distributed services in Windows 2000 have been part of earlier releases of Windows NT, while others are new with this most recent version. Whatever their genesis, these technologies as a group comprise a powerful, well-integrated set of services that offers a solid foundation for building a distributed computing environment.

Infrastructure Services

In any distributed environment, many services can be considered part of the infrastructure. A distributed file service that allows access to files on other machines is very nice to have, for instance, as is some way to submit work to remote printers. But because they’re new in this release and because they solve critical problems, two infrastructure services are of paramount importance in Windows 2000: directory services and distributed security services.

Directory Services

By definition, a distributed environment has users, applications, and computers scattered about. To effectively use the environment’s resources, each of these must be able to find the required resources when they’re needed. One part of a distributed application, for example, might need to find another part running on a different system. Printers might be scattered in various places, yet still must be accessible to users of the environment. And each of those users should be able to log in from any of a number of workstations and still be presented with his or her own familiar environment, which requires finding information about each user’s personal preferences.

All of these things and more can be accomplished using a directory service. The most widely used directory service in data networks today is the Domain Name System (DNS), and Windows 2000 makes extensive use of DNS. But Windows 2000 also includes Active Directory, a wholly new directory service that implements the Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP). To see how DNS and Active Directory work together, it’s useful to first take a look at how domains are organized in Windows 2000.

Domains in Windows 2000  Like earlier versions of Windows NT, Windows 2000 allows grouping users and computers into domains. Using domains is not required, of course, and not all computers or users belong to a domain, but to fully use Windows 2000’s distributed services, domains are all but obligatory. Figure 1-2 shows an example Windows 2000 domain installed at a fictitious financial services firm called QwickBank. Although a domain can mix Windows 2000 systems with computers running Windows 9x or older versions of Windows NT-a subject that’s discussed in more detail in Chapter 2-this example assumes that the domain is purely Windows 2000...

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Table of Contents

Foreword vii
Preface ix
Chapter 1 The Windows 2000 Distributed Environment 1
Defining Distributed Services 2
Infrastructure Services 5
Application Support Services 14
Managing Distributed Services 25
Using Windows 2000 Distributed Services 26
Chapter 2 Directory Services 33
Defining Directory Services 34
DNS in Windows 2000 35
Understanding Active Directory 39
An Example Use of Active Directory: Group Policy 70
Upgrading to Active Directory 79
Chapter 3 Distributed Security Services: Kerberos 83
Distributed Security in Windows 2000 83
Understanding Kerberos 88
Chapter 4 Distributed Security Services: Public Key Technology 117
Understanding Public Key Technology 118
Managing Public Key Technology in Windows 2000 133
Understanding SSL 152
Using Public Key Technology with Kerberos 163
Chapter 5 Component Services: COM and DCOM 167
Understanding COM Objects 167
Threads and Apartments 190
Marshaling 193
Distributed COM 197
Chapter 6 Data Access Services 205
Open Database Connectivity 206
OLE Database 208
ActiveX Data Objects 209
Related Technologies for Accessing Data 235
Chapter 7 Distributed Transaction Services 239
The DTC Environment 240
Two-Phase Commit 242
A DTC Example 246
Other Topics 250
Chapter 8 Component Services: COM+ 259
From COM to COM+ 260
COM+ Basics 263
Automatic Transactions 270
Object Lifetime Services 289
Concurrency Services 300
Security Services 304
Other COM+ Technologies 310
Chapter 9 Message Queuing Services 329
When to Use Message Queuing 330
MSMQ Basics 332
Understanding Queues 335
Understanding Messages 340
Accessing MSMQ 347
MSMQ Security Services 353
MSMQ and Transactions 357
Routing in MSMQ 364
Connecting MSMQ to Other Systems 366
Chapter 10 Web Application Services 369
Web Basics 371
IIS Basics 377
Understanding CGI 381
Understanding ISAPI 382
Understanding ASPs 385
Using XML 408
Load Balancing 415
Final Thoughts 418
Index 421
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