LDAP: A Sophisticated Directory Service

LDAP and ADSI are much richer and more sophisticated directory services. LDAP stands for Lightweight Directory Access Protocol. There are two widely deployed versions of the LDAP protocol out there (Version 2 and Version 3—anything that is version specific will be clearly noted as such). This protocol is fast becoming the industry standard for directory access. System administrators have embraced LDAP because it offers them a way to centralize and make available all sorts of infrastructure information. Besides the standard “company directory,” examples applications include:

  • NIS-to-LDAP gateways

  • Finger-to-LDAP gateways

  • Authentication databases of all sorts (e.g., for use on the Web)

  • Resource advertisement (i.e., which machines and peripherals are available)

LDAP is also the basis of other sophisticated directory services like Microsoft’s Active Directory, which we’ll see later, in the section Section 6.5.

Even if LDAP is not used in your environment to provide anything but a fancy phone book, there are still good reasons to learn how to use the protocol. LDAP servers themselves can be administered using the same protocol they serve, similar to SQL database servers being administered via SQL. To this end, Perl offers an excellent glue environment for automating LDAP administrative tasks. Before we get there, we need to be sure we understand LDAP itself.

Appendix B, contains a quick introduction to LDAP for the uninitiated. The biggest barrier new ...

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