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An advanced, hierarchical directory service that comes with Windows servers and used for managing permissions and user access to network resources. Introduced in Windows 2000, Active Directory is a domain-based network that is structured like the Internet's Domain Naming System (DNS). Using the LDAP directory access protocol, a company's workgroups (departments, sections, offices, etc.) are assigned domain names similar to Web addresses, and any LDAP-compliant Windows, Mac, Unix or Linux client can access them.

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