I'm planning a SharePoint2010 application where most of our users are on an intranet and authenticated through Active Directory, but where ~20% of the users are external to the organization. We are planning to let the external users connect through the internet. These users are only loosely affiliated with the organization, and I need some way for site owners (which may not have AD administrator privileges or even knowledge of what AD is!) to easily be able to create and delete accounts for these external users to be able to contribute or edit content.
So the question is, is there some sort of SharePoint web interface for (1) managing Active Directory users or (2) managing users through some external authentication provider? I'm also a bit green on setting up different authentication providers..have any of you done this before, or is there maybe something obvious that I'm overlooking?
@Edit: Thanks for all your responses, my conclusion for this scenario is to use either a Bamboo solutions web part or write some custom code to work against the existing Active Directory. The problem with using a separate authentication provider is it's a lot of extra work; it seems that this functionality was intended to enable integration with authentication infrastructure that's already in place rather than to build something from scratch. As webdes03 said, setting up a separate AD is a quick and elegant option if there are a lot of external users.