Microsoft NT Server

Microsoft's Network Domain Model

NT computers can be logically grouped in one of following two logical ways:

The Workgroup Model

A workgroup is a peer-to-peer collection of computing devices. It is a relationship where all devices can act as both a client and/or a server. Each machine in the workgroup maintains its own database of accounts and security policies. Windows for Workgroups, Windows 95, and AppleTalk are all peer-to-peer networks.

Most local area networks created with Microsoft products follow the workgroup model. Generally, people believe that they are getting the advantages of the domain model, but have not created a working domain. Workgroups are very easy to create, and they will suit only the smallest local area networks (2-20 nodes).

Advantages Disadvantages
simple design to implement no central management
easy to share resources duplicate accounts
distributed resources everybody must be an administrator
convient for a limited number inefficient for large networks

The Domain Model

The Microsoft domain model has several key advantages over the morkgroup model. Key to this model is the concept that all devices on the network share a single database for network accounts, and they can be administered as a group. Each NT workstation and server still retains a local database for the purpose of logging into the machine without logging into the network.

It is necessary to have a central place to store this database and to control changes. Therefore, all Domains must have a Primary Domain Controller, or PDC. The PDC must be the first machine created in the domain, and the name given to the domain must be unique. Also, an important design consideration: Microsoft gives a pratical limit of 15,000 accounts per domain. Depending on which model your domain's design is based upon, I would suggest a much lower number.

Advantages Disadvantages
centralized administration administration becomes more complex
centralized access control sharing resources becomes more complex
control of user's environment additional administrative overhead
grouping of resources browsing may become a problem

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The Microsoft Windows NT Virtual Lecture by Patrick Watson
Florida Community College at Jacksonville