LDAP: User Authorization can fail when using Active Directory with Nested Group lookup enabled.
09 August 2019 10:45 AM

Introduction: the issue

MarkLogic performs Nested lookups on the LDAP Groups assigned to a user to determine which roles the user will be assigned. If the groups belong to multiple Active Directory Domains within a federated Active Directory Forest then MarkLogic user authorization could fail with a subordinate Referral error, as seen below:

2019-07-30 13:27:23.002 Notice: XDMP-LDAP: ldap_search_s failed on ldap server ldap:// Referral (10)


MarkLogic has been configured to connect to the Local Domain Controller LDAP ports 389 (LDAP) or 636 (LDAPs), however, a Local Domain Controller can only search domains to which it has access.


A user is a member of the following groups which belong to two separate Active Directory domains, subA, and subC.

Using a Local Domain Controller for subA for external authorization would result in a login failure when attempting to perform the nested group lookup for the domain subC

member=CN=Group Onw,OU=OrgUnitAGroups,OU=OrgUnitA,DC=subA,DC=domain
member=CN=Group Two,OU=OrgUnitAGroups,OU=OrgUnitA,DC=subA,DC=domain
member=CN=Group Three,OU=OrgUnitCGroups,OU=OrgUnitC,DC=subC,DC=domain


If you have multiple Active Directory Domains federated into an Active Directory forest you should use the Global Catalog port 3278 (LDAP) or 3279 (LDAPS) to prevent failures when searching for group memberships that are defined in other domains.

Optional workaround

A large number of nested groups can potentially lead to a decrease in login time performance, if you do not need to really on nested lookups to determine group membership for MarkLogic roles, i.e. all groups required are returned from the initial user search request then you should consider disabling setting the "ldap nested lookup" parameter to false in the External Security configuration.

Doing this would also prevent subordinate domain searches and allow you to continue to use an Active Directory Domain Controller instead of switching to the Global Catalog.

Further reading

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