Chapter 2. Planning the Directory Data

The data stored in the directory may include user names, email addresses, telephone numbers, and information about groups users are in, or it may contain other types of information. The type of data in the directory determines how the directory is structured, who is given access to the data, and how this access is requested and granted.
This chapter describes the issues and strategies behind planning the directory's data.

2.1. Introduction to Directory Data

Some types of data are better suited to the directory than others. Ideal data for a directory has some of the following characteristics:
  • It is read more often than written.
  • It is expressible in attribute-data format (for example, surname=jensen).
  • It is of interest to more than one person or group. For example, an employee's name or the physical location of a printer can be of interest to many people and applications.
  • It will be accessed from more than one physical location.
For example, an employee's preference settings for a software application may not seem to be appropriate for the directory because only a single instance of the application needs access to the information. However, if the application is capable of reading preferences from the directory and users might want to interact with the application according to their preferences from different sites, then it is very useful to include the preference information in the directory.

2.1.1. Information to Include in the Directory

Any descriptive or useful information about a person or asset can be added to an entry as an attribute. For example:
  • Contact information, such as telephone numbers, physical addresses, and email addresses.
  • Descriptive information, such as an employee number, job title, manager or administrator identification, and job-related interests.
  • Organization contact information, such as a telephone number, physical address, administrator identification, and business description.
  • Device information, such as a printer's physical location, type of printer, and the number of pages per minute that the printer can produce.
  • Contact and billing information for a corporation's trading partners, clients, and customers.
  • Contract information, such as the customer's name, due dates, job description, and pricing information.
  • Individual software preferences or software configuration information.
  • Resource sites, such as pointers to web servers or the file system of a certain file or application.
Using the Directory Server for more than just server administration requires planning what other types of information to store in the directory. For example:
  • Contract or client account details
  • Payroll data
  • Physical device information
  • Home contact information
  • Office contact information for the various sites within the enterprise

2.1.2. Information to Exclude from the Directory

Red Hat Directory Server is excellent for managing large quantities of data that client applications read and write, but it is not designed to handle large, unstructured objects, such as images or other media. These objects should be maintained in a file system. However, the directory can store pointers to these kinds of applications by using pointer URLs to FTP, HTTP, and other sites.