One of the big advantages of Active Directory over its predecessor, Windows NT, is the reliance on the Domain Name System (DNS) as opposed to the Windows Internet Naming Service (WINS) for name resolution. DNS is the ubiquitous, standards-based naming service used on the Internet. WINS, on the other hand, never garnered industry support and, because it is a proprietary Microsoft offering, was typically used only to support Windows NT NOS environments.
The good news is that with Active Directory the dependencies on WINS have been eliminated, but the potentially bad news is that Active Directory has a lot of dependencies on the DNS infrastructure. It is only potentially bad based on the flexibility of your DNS environment. Often, the groups that manage DNS and Active Directory within an organization are different, and getting the two teams to agree on implementation can be difficult due to political turf battles or technology clashes.
The intent of this chapter is to provide you with a good understanding of how Active Directory uses DNS and a description of some of the options for setting it up within your organization. We will briefly touch on some DNS basics but will not go into much depth on how to configure and administer the Windows DNS server. For more information on those topics, we highly recommend DNS on Windows 2000 by Matt Larson and Cricket Liu (O'Reilly & Associates).