Learn AD in 15 Minutes a Week: Lightweight Directory Access Protocol

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by Jason Zandri

Welcome to the sixth installment of Learn Active Directory Design and Administration in 15 Minutes a Week, a weekly series aimed at current IT professionals preparing to write the new Windows Active Directory Design and Administration exams (70-219 and 70-217 respectively), as well as newcomers to the field who are trying to get a solid grasp on this new and emerging directory service from Microsoft. This installment is going to discuss the Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP), a tiny bit of its history and for the most part, how it is used within Windows 2000 and Active Directory.

Jason Zandri's latest article in the Learn Active Directory Design and Administration in 15 Minutes a Week discusses the Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP) and how it's used within Windows 2000 and Active Directory.



The Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP) is an Internet standard protocol that was originally put into use at the University of Michigan. Developers wanted to free clients from the Directory Access Protocol (DAP) that was in use at the time for X.500 Directory Service access. This was often resource intensive on the client side and required the Open Systems Interconnection (OSI) protocol to be used.

The Open Systems Interconnection protocol was poised as the likely replacement for TCP/IP at one point in its history as many governments around the world as well as educational institutions made the OSI protocol the preferred protocol on their systems. Due mainly to incompatibility issues across different systems and the insurgence of the internet, TCP/IP overtook the OSI protocol as the preferred protocol and became the defacto standard due to its popularity and cross platform functionality.

X.500 Directory Service database is stored in a hierarchical design and uses the Directory System Agent (DSA) which provides fast searches and retrieval of data.

The Directory User Agent (DUA) can be implemented in different user interfaces via dedicated clients. E-mail applications that utilize this framework is just one example of this.

The Directory Access Protocol (DAP) is used in X.500 Directory Services for controlling communications between the Directory User Agent and
the Directory System Agent.

The X.500 Directory Services run as processes at the OSI application layer and are used to provide a universally unified naming service for all elements in a single network while providing the structure for unique names for all objects in the Directory. X.500 also serves as a translator between different networks.

[NOTES FROM THE FIELD] - Much of this historical information is not an Exam Requirement for either of the 70-217 or the 70-219 exams. Knowing the background information may help you, though, on questions relating to the Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP) and how it is used within Windows 2000 and Active Directory. LDAP and Active Directory are two big pieces of both exams.

This article was originally published on Jun 6, 2002
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