Active Directory Service Interfaces (ADSI)

Definition of Active Directory Service Interfaces (ADSI) in Network Encyclopedia.

What is Active Directory Service Interfaces (ADSI)

ADSI is an object-oriented programming interface to Active Directory of Microsoft Windows 2000. More generally, a set of interfaces built on the Component Object Model (COM) that lets applications work with various types of directories using a single access method. Active Directory Service Interfaces (ADSI) was formerly known as OLE DS.

ADSI Provider
ADSI Provider

How it works

ADSI works by abstracting the capabilities of directory services from different network providers to present a single set of interfaces for managing network resources in a distributed computing network. Active Directory Service Interfaces provides a simple, open, functionally rich, and scriptable method for interfacing with any directory service, independent of the vendor.

ADSI is built on the Component Object Model and consists of two types of COM objects (directory service leaf objects and directory service container objects) that clients can manipulate with interfaces. ADSI providers are used to implement these objects and their interfaces. Each object in a given namespace is identified using a unique name. For example, file system objects can be specified using their absolute path, while directory objects are usually specified using their X.500 address. However, ADSI is flexible enough to handle any naming system used by third-party vendors’ directory service implementations.

ADSI can be used by programmers and administrators to create directory-enabled applications using tools such as Microsoft Visual Basic or Microsoft Visual C++. ADSI supports the Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP) C API defined in Request for Comments (RFC) number 1823, which specifies a low-level interface for C language programming and provides support for the Messaging Application Programming Interface (MAPI) so that legacy MAPI applications will work with Active Directory.

Windows Server 2000

ADSI was particularly prominent during the time when Windows 2000 and early versions of Windows Server were being used. It allowed for programming and scripting access to Active Directory, as well as other LDAP-based directory services, and even services not based on LDAP, like Novell NDS.

Evolution of Microsoft’s Technology Stack

With the evolution of Microsoft’s technology stack, especially with the introduction and advancement of PowerShell, many of the tasks that were once done using ADSI can now be accomplished more efficiently using PowerShell cmdlets. For instance, the ActiveDirectory module in PowerShell offers a plethora of cmdlets for managing AD.

PowerShell offers a more consistent, flexible, and powerful environment for management and automation, and Microsoft has invested heavily in ensuring that virtually all aspects of Windows Server, including Active Directory, are manageable using PowerShell.

PowerShell for Active Directory Tasks

If you’re working in a modern Windows Server environment, it’s recommended to focus on PowerShell for Active Directory tasks. However, understanding ADSI can still be valuable, especially if you’re dealing with legacy applications or scripts, or if you’re working in an environment with older versions of Windows Server.


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