Active Directory is one of the most requested topic by many people. Using Active Directory is the best way to organize users’ accounts, resources, access control, and administration.
An Active Directory is a database that stores information about objects like Users, Printers, Member Services, etc.
By the end of this blog, you will at least understand the basics of Active Directory.
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Table of Contents
Overview of Active Directory
I will start with an example for better understanding.
As the image showcases there are four users and 4 Systems and any user can access any system when a system is free. If User 1 wants to access System 1 then I have to create a user Log-In for User 1. Similarly, if User 1 wants to access all systems then I want to create a Log-In manually for all Systems.
So I have to create a login in all Systems for the rest of the Users. The scenario becomes more difficult when there are thousands of users for whom I have to create a login in all Sytems.
As a result, my system admin’s overhead drastically increased. Admin overhead means the expenses associated with overseeing and administrating all operations within an organization. To solve this problem, I have to use Active Directory.
Active Directory can be used on the following
- You will need a machine
- Secondly, you will need to install an OS actually a NOS(Network Operating System).
- NOS such as Windows Server 2022, 2019, etc.
- You will need to install a role called ADDS (Active Directory Domain Services)
After installing this role this machine will be called DC (Domain Controller).
A Domain controller is a server in a Windows-based network that centrally manages and controls access to network resources such as user accounts, security settings, and computer policies.
In simple words,
A domain controller is like a master organizer for a group of computers in a network. It manages who can access what helps log into computers, and keeps important information like user accounts and passwords in one central location. It is like a gatekeeper who makes sure that everything runs smoothly and securely in a network of computers.
Important AD Logical Architecture
The logical architecture of Active Directory (AD) defines how the components and data within AD are organized and interact. It’s like a blueprint that describes how everything is structured and connected. Here is a simplified explanation of the key elements in Active Directory’s logical architecture:
Forest: The highest level of organization in Active Directory is called a forest. A forest is like a container that holds multiple domains. Each forest has its own security policies, schema, and configuration settings.
Domain: Within a forest, you have domains. A domain is a distinct grouping of computers, users, and resources that share a common security policy and directory database. Domains are used to organize and manage the network’s resources efficiently.
Domain Controller (DC): Each domain has one or more domain controllers. These are servers responsible for storing and managing the directory database for the domain. They authenticate users, enforce security policies, and handle other directory-related tasks.
Organizational Units (OUs): OUs are containers within domains that help organize objects like users, groups, computers, and other resources. They allow administrators to apply specific policies, permissions, and settings to groups of objects.
Objects: Objects are the individual entities stored within Active Directory. They include things like user accounts, computer accounts, groups, printers, and more. Each object has attributes that define its characteristics and properties.
Trust Relationships: Trusts are established between domains to allow users and resources in one domain to access resources in another domain within the same forest or in a different forest. Trusts enable collaboration and resource sharing.
Global Catalog: The global catalog is a special type of domain controller that stores a subset of the directory’s information. It helps in searching for objects across the forest, even if they belong to different domains.
Schema: The schema defines the structure and attributes of objects in the Active Directory database. It ensures consistency and standardization across the directory.
Group Policy: Group Policy allows administrators to control the behavior and settings of users and computers in the network. It can be used to enforce security policies, configure software, and manage various aspects of the operating environment.
Replication: Active Directory replication ensures that changes made in one domain controller are synchronized with other domain controllers within the same domain or forest. This maintains consistency and availability of data across the network.
Benefits of Active Directory
- Centralized Management: Active Directory centralizes user and resource management, reducing redundancy and administrative overhead.
- Single Sign-On (SSO): Users can access multiple resources with a single set of credentials, enhancing user experience and security.
- Access Control: Active Directory enables granular control over access to resources, ensuring that users can only access what they’re authorized to use.
- Group Policy: Group Policy allows administrators to enforce security settings, software configurations, and other policies across the network.
- Scalability: Active Directory’s hierarchical structure accommodates organizations of all sizes, from small businesses to large enterprises.
Active Directory’s security features are paramount in ensuring the integrity of network resources and data. It offers:
- Authentication and Authorization: Active Directory ensures that only authorized users can access network resources, preventing unauthorized access.
- Kerberos Authentication: A strong authentication protocol that safeguards against eavesdropping and tampering.
- Secure Communication: Active Directory uses secure protocols to transmit data, safeguarding against interception.
- Password Policies: Administrators can enforce strong password policies, reducing the risk of unauthorized access due to weak passwords.
Windows Server Active Directory has changed the landscape of network administration and security. Its hierarchical structure, centralized management, and strong security features make it an indispensable tool for organizations of all sizes.
Active Directory continues to adapt as technology evolves, enabling organizations to efficiently manage their resources and provide secure access to users in an ever-changing IT landscape.