An object is a distinct, named set of attributes that represents, for example, a user, a printer, or a server application. Active Directory objects represent those things that customers say are the most heavily accessed directory service objects that are found in network environments. Active Directory includes specifications for the following types of objects: user, group, directory service container, print management, schema, and service management.
For systems running Microsoft® Windows® NT version 4.0 and earlier, client processes and administrative programs require the computer name or the Internet Protocol (IP) address of the computer on which the service exists. The name or address is needed to find and connect to a service. In contrast, Active Directory enables client processes and administrative programs to connect to a service by using the keywords attribute, which enables the client to find the dnsHostName.
For more information on keywords, see "Finding and Viewing Service Information in Active Directory" later in this chapter. For more information on dnsHostName see "Name Resolution In Active Directory" in this book.
Active Directory enables you to find and connect to a directory-enabled service by using attributes other than the computer name or the IP address of the computer on which the service exists. Active Directory uses other object attributes, such as the service display name, commonly called the "friendly" name, to find services like Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP). The structure of the Active Directory database and specific service objects are described in more detail in "Directory Infrastructure for Service Publication" later in this chapter.