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Need advice on best way to set up Web server infrastructure

I work for a local education authority as a Web and database development officer. In a bid to help to achieve 'e-government' by 2004, I have been tasked with rationalizing our Web server infrastructure. Our current mix of Web servers ranges from NT IIS 4.0 platforms to Win95-based Filemaker Pro setups -- scary!

Our ultimate aim is to deliver Web-based services to users dependent on their access privileges. We don't want multiple logins and passwords depending on the Web server being accessed. Cookies and IP lookup authentication are out as our users generally share machines often in a classroom environment. It was suggested that, if we upgrade our Web servers to Win2000 Server and house them within one sub-domain, we could use Microsoft's Active Directory to achieve our goal.

I would appreciate any advice that you could offer on this matter.

One of Active Directory's uses is for user tracking and authentication. It's pretty good at this, and will probably do what you describe. If your users are government employees and number in the hundreds or thousands, it may very well be the right solution. If, however, your users are the general public, you probably hope to have hundreds of thousands of users. If this is the case, Active Directory is definitely NOT the right solution.

There are many ways to authenticate and track large quantities of users for personalized Web sites. I wish I could recommend a specific product, but I haven't done enough research to feel comfortable pointing you in one direction. There are many choices besides Active Directory, though.

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