SharePoint 2007 has a special database that can store information about the users of the system called the user profile database. This database contains properties and metadata about each user of the system in a very similar manner that you can store information describing a document in a document library. User profile information is useful for storing contact information and biographies of the different users of the system for information-sharing purposes, but you can also use it for more advanced purposes, such as content targeting and personalization via audiences (discussed in a later section of this chapter).
While SharePoint 2007 can import profiles from other sources, this chapter assumes that Active Directory is your primary profile source because it is the most common membership store for organizations using this application. SharePoint collects common profile properties from Active Directory including Name, Email Address, Phone Number, Manager, and Address. SharePoint can also import custom profile properties such as skills, languages, and employee ID.
While SharePoint 2003 can only collect user profile information from Active Directory, SharePoint 2007 can obtain it from the following sources:
Other LDAP servers
Business data catalog applications
User profiles are not required for an organization to implement SharePoint; however, they allow you to personalize ...