What is Active Directory, Who Uses It & Why You Should Learn It | ONLC

Microsoft Active Directory (also known as AD) is one of the world’s most popular corporate network access management tools. Over 90% of Fortune 1,000 companies use Active Directory to manage their endpoints and assets. Active Directory provides companies with a database and the ability to allow users in their network to access endpoints like tools, systems, and authentication while also holding all of their network information like profiles, job titles, passwords, and phone numbers.  


What Does Active Directory Do? 

Active Directory stores company data in a format known as objects. An object is a single element like a machine (a computer, printer, or scanner), a user, a group, or an application. Objects are further broken down into resource classifications (like a computer or a printer) or security principal (like groups and users).  

Company IT departments can view all of these objects at a glance and know exactly who in their company has access to what. Additionally, they can grant or remove access to network resources, update information, and even do things like resetting passwords for users. 


What Information Does Active Directory Store? 

The Active Directory database can store a wide range of information. All of the objects have attributions associated with them which are used to help further classify them. Basic object attributes can be a user’s name, job title, password, email, and phone number. Attributes can also be more complex, like GUID (Global Unique Identifier) group memberships, login time stamps, and Security Identifiers (SID).     


How Does Active Directory Work? 

Active Directory seems complex on the surface, but in reality, all it is is a hierarchical structure within a database. The main service is Active Directory Domain Services (AD DS). AD DS is run on a server known as the Domain Controller, and this stores all of the directory information. This Windows server, in turn, handles all of the user interaction and things like authentication via Single Sign On (SSO), security certificates, LDAP ( Lightweight Directory Access Protocol), and controls what groups each user has access to. Active Directory Domain Services also contains access to other Microsoft products like Exchange Server, 365, and SharePoint Server.


Why is Active Directory So Important For IT Professionals? 

Active Directory is arguably one of the most important tools within a company. The larger a company gets, the more complex its user and security needs become. Implementing group policy objects, creating organization units, and assigning permissions become critical processes. With Active Directory being the “keys to the castle,” so to speak, it’s also a prime target for bad actors. Having a solid knowledge of Active Directory and cybersecurity principles puts a powerful tool in the belt of any IT professional.  


Ready to advance your career with an Active Directory Certification? ONLC Training Centers can get you the education you need for the next step in your growth.     

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