Introduction to Active Directory Services Technologies

IT administrators have been working with and around Active Directory since the introduction of the technology in Windows 2000 Server. Windows 2000 Server was released on February 17, 2000 but many administrators began working with Active Directory in late 1999 when it was released to manufacturing (RTM) on December 15, 1999.

In this part of our tutorial we’ll speak about AD service technologies.

About Active Directory Services Technologies

Like many other areas of IT, directory services has rapidly expanded with new features and functionality along with additional complexity. Instead of a single directory product such as AD DS, there are quite a few other services that make up the directory services category.

In addition to the Microsoft solutions, many third-party vendors are creating products that standalone on their own or enhance and expand the Microsoft offerings. Today, directory services technologies from Microsoft includes the following products:

  • Active Directory Domain Services (AD DS). AD DS is the core focus of this e-book so it doesn’t require an introduction. But, how about an interesting fact instead? According to Microsoft Corporate Vice President Takeshi Numoto, Active Directory is used by 93% of the Fortune 1000.
  • Active Directory Lightweight Directory Services (AD LDS). AD LDS is the lightweight, developerfriendly, directory that can be deployed on a client computer and client operating system as well as on a server. It isn’t as full featured as AD DS (for example, Group Policy isn’t part of it) but it can be useful as a decentralized directory for developers and testers.
  • Active Directory Federation Services (AD FS). AD FS is a claims-based identity solution that helps independent organizations connect their directory services technologies together to facilitate single sign-on and cross-organizational resource access. Today, it has become a fairly common solution because it helps organizations connect to cloud services such as Microsoft Azure.

Additionally, there are two other roles that you may be wondering about. Active Directory Certificate Services (AD CS) and Active Directory Rights Management Services (AD RMS) are often grouped in with the other technologies listed above to form the suite of technologies offered by Microsoft for on-premise Active Directory related deployments.

Additionally, there are products outside of the immediate Active Directory family such as Microsoft Forefront Identity Manager (FIM).

Beyond the on-premise technologies, there are also several cloud-based solutions that offer services in the cloud such as Azure Active Directory and Azure Multi-Factor Authentication.

More information about Active Directory basics you will find in our AD tutorial for beginners.