In Microsoft Provisioning Framework (MPF), a provider is the source of all functionality required to support provisioning services. MPF uses providers to execute requests. A provider is a COM object with one or more procedures that provides the functional interface to an external component, such as Active Directory. Each provider recognizes a set of defined procedures that are necessary to provision a resource or a distinct set of services. The provider is implemented as a .DLL file with a corresponding provider namespace registered in the configuration database.
Providers perform the core functionality of provisioning. Several standard providers are installed with MPF, including the Active Directory Provider. Several additional providers are also available in Microsoft Provisioning System. For example, if you use Microsoft Exchange 2000 Enterprise Server, you can use the Exchange Provider to provision messaging services for your organization or your customers. Using the Exchange Provider, you can also manage Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP) domains, create mailboxes, and complete other Exchange administration tasks.
For information about how providers work, see How a provider works and Provider implementation in Microsoft Provisioning System. For more information on the providers and provider namespaces installed with MPF and the other providers and provider namespaces available in Microsoft Provisioning System, see Provider namespaces available in Microsoft Provisioning System. For information on requests, see Request architecture. For information on procedures, see Procedure architecture. For information on providers, see Provider architecture. The Microsoft Provisioning Framework Software Development Kit (SDK) contains additional resources to help you implement procedures, requests, and namespaces. This includes the complete XML schema for all elements and information on how to implement providers. For more information on the SDK and how to use it, see Microsoft Provisioning Framework SDK.