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LDAP Series Part III - The Historical Secrets

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The origins of LDAP begin with the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) based in Geneva. ITU began setting email standards which required a directory of names (and other information) that could be accessed across networks in a hierarchical fashion not dissimilar to DNS. The result of their work resulted in the X.500 series of standards which defined DAP (Directory Access Protocol), the protocol for accessing a networked directory service.

Tim Howes, Steve Kille and Wengyik Yeong saw a better way to achieve the aims of ITU and published a proposal entitled X.500 Lightweight Directory Access Protocol in RFC 1487 during July 1993. Their abstract read as follows:

The protocol described in this document is designed to provide access to the Directory while not incurring the resource requirements of the Directory Access Protocol (DAP). This protocol is specifically targeted at simple management applications and browser applications that provide simple read/write interactive access to the Directory, and is intended to be a complement to the DAP itself.

Tim Howes of the University of Michigan led the development of LDAP supported by the National Science Foundation. From 1993 to 1997, the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) published 13 RFCs related to LDAP and dozens since.

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