Directory Server indexes directory entry attribute values to speed searches for those values. You can configure attributes to be indexed in various ways. For example, indexes can help Directory Server determine quickly whether an attribute has a value, whether it has a value equal to a given value, and whether it has a value containing a given substring.
Indexes can add to search performance, but they can also impact write performance. When an attribute is indexed, Directory Server has to update the index as values of the attribute change.
Directory Server saves index data to files. The more indexes you configure, the more disk space required. Directory Server indexes and data files are found, by default, under the instance-path/db/ directory.
For a detailed discussion of indexing and index settings, read Chapter 6, Directory Server Indexing, in Sun Java System Directory Server Enterprise Edition 6.1 Reference.