Tip

Whatis.com definition: LDAP

LDAP (Lightweight Directory Access Protocol) is a software protocol for enabling anyone to locate organizations, individuals, and other resources such as files and devices in a network, whether on the public Internet or on a corporate intranet. LDAP is a "lightweight" (smaller amount of code) version of Directory Access Protocol (DAP), which is part of X.500, a standard for directory services in a network. LDAP is lighter because in its initial version it did not include security features. LDAP originated at the University of Michigan and has been endorsed by at least 40 companies. Netscape includes it in its latest Communicator suite of products. Microsoft includes it as part of what it calls Active Directory in a number of products including Outlook Express. Novell's NetWare Directory Services interoperates with LDAP. Cisco also supports it in its networking products.

In a network, a directory tells you where in the network something is located. On TCP/IP networks (including the Internet), the domain name system (DNS) is the directory system used to relate the domain name to a specific network address (a unique location on the network). However, you may not know the domain name. LDAP allows you to search for an individual without knowing where they're located (although additional information will help with the search).

An LDAP directory is organized in a simple "tree" hierarchy consisting of the following levels:

- The root directory (the starting

    Requires Free Membership to View

place or the source of the tree), which branches out to - Countries, each of which branches out to
- Organizations, which branch out to
- Organizational units (divisions, departments, and so forth), which branches out to (includes an entry for)
- Individuals (which includes people, files, and shared resources such as printers)

An LDAP directory can be distributed among many servers. Each server can have a replicated version of the total directory that is synchronized periodically. An LDAP server is called a Directory System Agent (DSA). An LDAP server that receives a request from a user takes responsibility for the request, passing it to other DSAs as necessary, but ensuring a single coordinated response for the user.


This was first published in January 2003

There are Comments. Add yours.

 
TIP: Want to include a code block in your comment? Use <pre> or <code> tags around the desired text. Ex: <code>insert code</code>

REGISTER or login:

Forgot Password?
By submitting you agree to receive email from TechTarget and its partners. If you reside outside of the United States, you consent to having your personal data transferred to and processed in the United States. Privacy
Sort by: OldestNewest

Forgot Password?

No problem! Submit your e-mail address below. We'll send you an email containing your password.

Your password has been sent to:

Disclaimer: Our Tips Exchange is a forum for you to share technical advice and expertise with your peers and to learn from other enterprise IT professionals. TechTarget provides the infrastructure to facilitate this sharing of information. However, we cannot guarantee the accuracy or validity of the material submitted. You agree that your use of the Ask The Expert services and your reliance on any questions, answers, information or other materials received through this Web site is at your own risk.