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The Active Directory/Open Directory Love Child: Where There Is No Dominant Platform

Until now, I've focused on the relatively simple solutions for integrating Mac and Windows servers. Anyone with a basic knowledge of both Windows Server and Mac OS X Server should be able to easily accomplish those solutions in a short amount of time. They're fairly easy because you're designating a single directory service (either Open Directory or Active Directory) to be the only directory service used on the network.

I've also presumed that only one Open Directory domain or one Active Directory domain exists within the network. However, it's possible to have a large number of Active Directory domains and even multiple Active Directory forests within one network. It's also possible for a Mac OS X Server infrastructure to include multiple Open Directory domains with clients that are set up with varying search paths to use in locating account information among the domains to which they're joined.

It's possible to get even more complex—designating Open Directory search paths that have Mac OS X workstations and servers relying upon both Open Directory and Active Directory servers. Likewise, it's possible to extend the schema of Active Directory to support record types and attributes that exist within Open Directory (therefore directly enabling Mac OS X account data to be stored in Active Directory). The reverse is also true.

Of course, these complex solutions go beyond the scope of an article with the word easy in the title. In particular, modifying the schema of either Active Directory or Open Directory requires a certain level of knowledge about how the directory service works and is not a task for the inexperienced. Likewise, developing complex search path solutions can be difficult for new Mac OS X Server administrators. Finally, because situations in which complex integration is involved are unique, providing simple and easy instructions or guidelines is often impossible.

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