The Active Directory is the foundation of an enterprise-level Windows network, and Windows Server 2003 includes a number of improvements and enhancements to its directory services that will make a network administrator's job easier. Exam candidates must understand the basics of how directory services work and the role they play in the network, and specifically how the directory services concept is implemented in Microsoft's Active Directory.

In this chapter, we start with the basics by defining directory services and providing a brief background of the directory services standards and protocols.You'll learn how the Active Directory works, and be introduced to the terminology and concepts required to understand the Active Directory infrastructure.

We discuss how the directory is structured into sites, forests, domains, domain trees, and organizational units (OUs), and you'll learn about the components that make up the Active Directory, including both logical and physical components. These include the schema, the Global Catalog (GC), domain controllers (DCs), and the replication service.You'll learn to use the Active Directory administrative tools, and we discuss directory security and access control. Finally, we provide an overview of what's new for Active Directory in Windows Server 2003.

This chapter lays the groundwork for the specific Active Directory-related administrative tasks that you will learn to perform throughout the rest of the book.

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