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Download free Mastering Active Directory for Windows Server 2003.pdf Just as NT was originally designed to overcome the weaknesses of server-based network operating systems, Windows 2000/Windows Server 2003 with AD was designed to overcome the weaknesses of an NT domain-based environment. While Microsoft is loath to admit it, NT domains created as many problems as they fixed, especially in larger networks. Most of NT’s weaknesses revolved around scalability. To put this another way, the NT domain structure was designed to overcome the limitations of server-based operating systems, which it did in an admirable fashion. The problem was that this domain model was designed with a “workgroup” philosophy. NT’s domains were designed to represent the resources of small groups within a company, not the overall network resources. This is where Windows 2000/Windows Server 2003 and Active Directory enter the picture.

Active Directory was designed, from the ground up, to support what Microsoft has labeled “enterprise environments.”These enterprise environments can span huge physical areas, support thousands (if not millions) of users, and can provide services that are critical to the overall success of the company. For us, as network administrators, this scalability does come with a cost; we must master a new technology. The benefits, though, are astounding! While Active Directory was built for huge environments, most, if not all, of its features are also applicable to small and medium networks. In fact, many of the new features built into Windows 2000/Windows Server 2003 and Active Directory can ease the management of those smaller environments that perhaps do not have a large IT staff or a staff with extensive networking expertise! The bottom line here is that Active Directory is a great addition to any network—large or small. IT professionals working on any size network will benefit from the new utilities, technologies, and features available once their network has become AD-based.

Very few networks are installed all at once, especially in medium to small companies. Most networks grow over time—almost like a fungus! First the accounting department installs a server. They get it configured properly (this can take some time) and start bragging it up around the company. The folks in the production department see what the accountants are doing and decide to install their own server, creating their own domain in the process. The sales department staff suddenly wants Internet mail, so they bring in a consultant and have their own server installed, creating yet another domain. Before you know it the company is NT-based, but there are no connections between the various departments.


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