Active Directory Domain Services (AD DS) is a server role in Active Directory that allows admins to manage and store information about resources from a network, as well as application data, in a distributed database. AD DS can also help admins manage a network's elements (computers and end users) and reorder them into a custom hierarchy.
The structure of the hierarchy includes an AD forest, the forest's domains and organizational units in those domains. AD DS integrates security by authenticating logons and controlling who has access to directory resources.
The makeup of AD DS includes:
- AD Users and Computers
- AD Administrative Center
- AD Domains and Trusts
- AD Sites and Services
- AD PowerShell module
- A server for Network Information Service tools
- Additional command-line tools and snap-ins
A number of new features were added to AD DS when Windows Server 2012 was released. Some of these new features include a global catalog with information about all objects in the directory, a replication service to dispense a directory's data across the network and a flexible single master options role to have a consistent directory without conflicting entries.