Active Directory (AD)?
Active Directory (AD) is a database to store user login, group, and configuration information that drives group policy and other application software. Windows uses AD as a repository for configuration information. One of the primary uses is the storage of user login credentials (AD usernames/passwords) so that computers can be configured to refer to this database to provide a centralized single sign-on capability for large numbers of machines (called "members" of the "Domain"). Other software systems such as email, eSchool, etc. can be configured to authenticate using the same credentials from AD.
Versions of the Windows operating system also can perform installations of software, make modifications to the user's environment (desktop, Start menu, the behavior of application programs, etc.) by using the Group Policy.
adapted from http://serverfault.com/questions/18339/active-directory-explained
Another way to think about Active Directory (AD) is to use the metaphor of the Yellow Pages. When a person looks in the Yellow Pages to find Auto Repair, Auto Body Repair, or a Collision Center, Joe of Joe’s Auto Repair wants his business to be found. He requests to have his company name listed under those subject headings and the Yellow Pages’ staff ensure Joe can be found in those categories.
By using information retrieved from the HR System such as name, job assignment, and location assignment, profiles for staff will be created upon hiring and those profiles will be assigned to groups. Student accounts will be created using the same method retrieving information from eSchool+.
With the implementation of Active Directory district-wide, there is a number of new improvements and changes for users on our network. Here are some of the features and changes that affect you.
Single Sign-On: One username and password now gives you access to First Class, logging on to computers, proxy override, and the new Help Desk system. We are working on integrating more of the district systems into Active Directory to make remembering and managing your username and password easier.
Improved Security: Active Directory sets policies for users and computers throughout the district that make our network more secure. Just one example, when Microsoft updated Internet Explorer (IE) to version 10 and pushed the update to Windows computers. eSchool does NOT work with IE 10 and many users had problems because of this. The solution was to manually uninstall IE 10 and revert back to IE8. With Active Directory we can set a policy that prevents all computers on our network from upgrading to a version of IE that is not compatible with the software we use.
Executables: Users are no longer allowed to download or run executable files or installers (files that end in .exe). This is for several reasons. We are working toward standardizing software that is used in the district in conjunction with the Curriculum Department. Users often install software unintentionally or otherwise that is not licensed by the district and therefore not legal to be used on district equipment. This policy also prevents harmful viruses and malware from deploying on district equipment, being unintentionally installed by users or installed by malicious websites.
Desktop background: Users are also no longer able to change their backgrounds. District staff will have the default windows background. All students will have a black background. This security feature will allow you to tell at a glance whether someone is logged in with a staff or student account. So, if you ever see a student on a computer with a windows background, you should tell them to log off immediately, report it to your campus and to the Technology Department. This could mean that a staff account has been compromised.
If you need help with installing a critical program on your computer, please see "Changes" below.
Additional Software Request: We have a new process for requesting the installation of additional software for computers. You need to first get written approval from your principal. Then you need to create a work order and attach that approval to the work order. Then the Technology Department will review your request to ensure that memory, network, or other hardware/software conflicts will not occur. If approved by both your principal and our department, a technician or approved staff person will install the software.