Last week we went over some Active Directory basics to answer the question "What is Active Directory?" We concluded that it's a database system that connects all of the individual machines within your network. We wanted to dig a little bit further into the benefits of using Active Directory for businesses, because it makes a world of difference!
What is Active Directory?
Without Active Directory, the computers in your office are set up in workgroups: individual devices that are all running on the same Local Area Network (LAN). This means that each computer is a standalone machine; they don’t communicate with each other easily, and require users to go through an authentication process every time you want to exchange information from one to another. There is no global account that will link all of the machines to one another.
Suppose that you have an office of five employees, and you think that integrating Active Directory isn’t necessary, because your operation is so small. In that case, you’ll have five independent workgroups set up—one for each machine. Your employees, Steve, Phil, Sue, Linda, and Ed, each have separate username and passwords that are stored within their machines, which they use to log onto their computers.
Each of the five computers are unaware of the others’ existence as far as network communications are concerned, which means that each time one user wants to access information from another, one machine needs to reach out to the other and authenticate the exchange. In order for Steve to connect with Sue’s machine, he needs to know her IP address, and would then need to enter a username and password that was set up through her machine.
Why Does my Company Need Active Directory?
If your office used Active Directory, all of the machines would be connected on a domain, which means all of the information is stored in a central location, not locally on the individual computers’ hard drives. The domain is controlled by a global catalog, which keeps track of all of the devices that are registered to the network. The global catalog stores the IP addresses, computer names, and users, so that the global administrator can oversee everything that happens on the domain. In order to access someone else’s computer, a user would just need that computer’s name, because everything is already linked on the back end.
When you’re using Active Directory, everything is already permissioned from the domain controller. This means that the network administrator has already told the domain controller what permissions to assign to each user. This makes all digital communication more efficient, because everything is easily accessible, and information is readily available.