Ask Dr. Intranet

FRAMINGHAM (07/24/2000) - You recently said Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP) directory services may be able to provide address book information for e-mail clients. What's the difference between directories, directory services and metadirectories?

A directory is the collection of information about users, systems, groups, networks, services and identities. The directory service provides access to the information and the mechanisms for adding, modifying, changing and deleting the information in the directory.

Metadirectories provide the capability to "join" information across different directories - some build a central data store and others build views on the fly. Directory services can provide centralized name-space and security relationship management solutions for user and group administration; network resource access authentication, authorization, auditing and accounting; desktop environment management administration; security policy practice and procedure implementation; and directory information administration.

Domain Name System is one directory service. Directory services offerings for intranet systems are primarily based on LDAP. Its functionality is available in existing e-mail clients, Web interfaces and application software. Windows 2000 Active Directory is one directory service that supports LDAP.

Blass is a network architect with Sprint Corp. Enterprise Network Services in Houston. He can be reached at

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