Connect to Active Directory as an External Data Source using PolyBase

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The Active Directory ODBC Driver is a powerful tool that allows you to connect with live Active Directory, directly from any applications that support ODBC connectivity.

Access Active Directory objects like you would a database - access Users, Groups, Roles, and Contacts, or define custom tables for any ObjectClass, and then perform SQL queries through a standard ODBC Driver interface.

Use the CData ODBC Driver for Active Directory and PolyBase to create an external data source in SQL Server 2019 with access to live Active Directory data.

PolyBase for SQL Server allows you to query external data by using the same Transact-SQL syntax used to query a database table. When paired with the CData ODBC Driver for Active Directory, you get access to your Active Directory data directly alongside your SQL Server data. This article describes creating an external data source and external tables to grant access to live Active Directory data using T-SQL queries.

NOTE: PolyBase is only available on SQL Server 19 and above, and only for Standard SQL Server.

The CData ODBC drivers offer unmatched performance for interacting with live Active Directory data using PolyBase due to optimized data processing built into the driver. When you issue complex SQL queries from SQL Server to Active Directory, the driver pushes down supported SQL operations, like filters and aggregations, directly to Active Directory and utilizes the embedded SQL engine to process unsupported operations (often SQL functions and JOIN operations) client-side. And with PolyBase, you can also join SQL Server data with Active Directory data, using a single query to pull data from distributed sources.

Connect to Active Directory

If you have not already, first specify connection properties in an ODBC DSN (data source name). This is the last step of the driver installation. You can use the Microsoft ODBC Data Source Administrator to create and configure ODBC DSNs. To create an external data source in SQL Server using PolyBase, configure a System DSN (CData Active Directory Sys is created automatically).

To establish a connection, set the following properties:

  • Valid User and Password credentials (e.g., Domain\BobF or cn=Bob F,ou=Employees,dc=Domain).
  • Server information, including the IP or host name of the Server, as well as the Port.
  • BaseDN: This will limit the scope of LDAP searches to the height of the distinguished name provided.

    Note: Specifying a narrow BaseDN may greatly increase performance; for example, cn=users,dc=domain will only return results contained within cn=users and its children.

Click "Test Connection" to ensure that the DSN is connected to Active Directory properly. Navigate to the Tables tab to review the table definitions for Active Directory.

Create an External Data Source for Active Directory Data

After configuring the connection, you need to create a master encryption key and a credential database for the external data source.

Creating a Master Encryption Key

Execute the following SQL command to create a new master key, 'ENCRYPTION,' to encrypt the credentials for the external data source.


Creating a Credential Database

Execute the following SQL command to create credentials for the external data source connected to Active Directory data.

NOTE: IDENTITY and SECRET correspond with the User and Password properties for Active Directory.

WITH IDENTITY = 'activedirectory_username', SECRET = 'activedirectory_password';

Create an External Data Source for Active Directory

Execute a CREATE EXTERNAL DATA SOURCE SQL command to create an external data source for Active Directory with PolyBase:

  • Set the LOCATION parameter , using the DSN and credentials configured earlier.

NOTE: SERVERNAME and PORT corresponds to the Server and Port connection properties for Active Directory. PUSHDOWN is set to ON by default, meaning the ODBC Driver can leverage server-side processing for complex queries.

CREATE EXTERNAL DATA SOURCE cdata_activedirectory_source
  CONNECTION_OPTIONS = 'DSN=CData Active Directory Sys',
  CREDENTIAL = activedirectory_creds

Create External Tables for Active Directory

After creating the external data source, use CREATE EXTERNAL TABLE statements to link to Active Directory data from your SQL Server instance. The table column definitions must match those exposed by the CData ODBC Driver for Active Directory. You can refer to the Tables tab of the DSN Configuration Wizard to see the table definition.

Sample CREATE TABLE Statement

The statement to create an external table based on a Active Directory User would look similar to the following:

  Id [nvarchar](255) NULL,
  LogonCount [nvarchar](255) NULL,
) WITH ( 

Having created external tables for Active Directory in your SQL Server instance, you are now able to query local and remote data simultaneously. Thanks to built-in query processing in the CData ODBC Driver, you know that as much query processing as possible is being pushed to Active Directory, freeing up local resources and computing power. Download a free, 30-day trial of the ODBC Driver for Active Directory and start working with live Active Directory data alongside your SQL Server data today.