NIS is capable of maintaining user account information, user groups, services, hosts, and many more pieces of information that, historically, needed to be managed on a local level.
NIS works well in small to medium-sized environments, but it isn't great at dealing with very large amounts of data. We don't mean the physical size of the data, but the management of that data. NIS uses flat files as input to the NIS database, which does not bode well in large infrastructures. One other major drawback of NIS was that it could not store any other information apart from account and systems data.
One way around this management problem is to use a tree to organize data in a manageable fashion. This is where LDAP comes to the rescue.
Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP) organizes data in a hierarchical structure, allowing you to organize information based on departments, or any other distinguishing method.
When introducing people to LDAP, we have always found that it is not an easy concept to explain because it is not easily compared to any existing technology. In this chapter, we give you an overview of what LDAP is, how it is used, and how to populate an LDAP server with information; we also discuss a scenario that is common to the use of LDAP, including configuration.
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