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Multimaster Conflict Resolution Policy

As described in "Resolving Conflicts: Stamps" earlier in this chapter, Active Directory resolves attribute value conflicts by comparing versions. However, attribute value conflicts are not the only conflicts that arise.

Given the semantics of LDAP directories, there are four possible conflicts that are created by multimaster updates. Two of these conflicts are in fact different sides of the same conflict, reducing the number of conflict situations to the following three:

  • Attribute value . A Modify operation sets the value of an attribute. Concurrently, at another domain controller, a Modify operation sets the value of the same attribute to a different value.

  • Add or Move under deleted parent, Delete non-leaf object An Add or Move operation makes object C a child of object P. Concurrently, at another domain controller, a Delete operation deletes object P.

  • Sibling name conflict . An Add or Move operation makes C1 a child of P with C1.rdn = R. Concurrently, at another domain controller, an Add or Move operation makes C2 a child of P with C2.rdn = R.

These conflicts can occur in any multimaster LDAP directory.

In Active Directory, the general approach to resolving these conflicts is to order all update operations (Add, Modify, Move, and Delete) by assigning a globally unique (per-object and per-attribute) stamp to the originating update. In the case of a conflict, the ordering of stamps allows a consistent resolution. This approach is applied to the three preceding conflicts as follows:

  • Attribute value. Let V be the value among {V1, V2} with the larger stamp. After resolution, the attribute value at all domain controllers is V.

note-icon Note

Conflicts are resolved at the level of the entire attribute value, even for multivalue attributes. The value after resolution is one multivalue or the other, not some combination.

  • Add or Move under deleted parent, Delete non-leaf object. After resolution, at all replicas, object P is deleted and object C is a child of the special LostAndFound container in the directory partition. Stamps are not involved in the resolution.

  • Sibling name conflict. Let C be the object among {C1, C2} whose relative distinguished name attribute value has the smaller stamp. After resolution, at all domain controllers, C.rdn is a system-assigned value unique to C that cannot conflict with any client-assigned value. For example, if the relative distinguished name of object C was "ABC" before conflict resolution, its relative distinguished name after resolution is "ABC*CNF:< guid >", where "*" represents a reserved character, "CNF" is a constant that indicates a conflict resolution, and "< guid >" represents a printable representation of the objectGuid attribute value.

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