For the final section of this chapter we’ll discuss a platform-dependent directory service framework that is heavily based on the material we’ve just covered.
Microsoft created a sophisticated LDAP-based directory service called Active Directory for use at the heart of their Windows 2000 administration framework. Active Directory serves as the repository for all of the important configuration information (users, groups, system policies, software installation support, etc.) used in a network of Windows 2000 machines.
During the development of Active Directory, Microsoft realized a higher-level applications interface to this service was needed. ADSI, or Active Directory Service Interfaces, was invented to provide this interface. To their credit, the developers at Microsoft also realized that their new ADSI framework could be extended to cover other system administration realms like printers and NT services. This coverage makes ADSI immensely useful to people who script and automate system administration tasks. Before we show this power in action, there are a few basic concepts and terms we need to cover.
ADSI can be thought of as a wrapper around any directory service that wishes to participate in the ADSI framework. There are providers, as these ADSI glue implementations are called, for LDAP, WinNT 4.0, and Novell Directory Service among others. In ADSI-speak, each of these directory services and data domains (WinNT isn’t a directory ...