Find Your Way Among the Forests and Trees

An Active Directory text for experienced professionals.

How many times have you gotten lost among the trees and forests? If you’re scratching your head trying to find your way through the endless features of Active Directory, you’re definitely not alone. For your journey, you’ve probably found the need to take along several references; while there is no “AD bible,” this book can be a valuable companion.

Directory architects will enjoy the first chapter, which walks through an AD design and implementation in case-study format. Microsoft uses a large international company for the example, so don’t get caught like you did with NT 4.0 domains and begin creating new AD trees just because the example does. If your company doesn’t span several continents, don’t worry; simply scale down the example to fit the geography of your company. One nice thing in this text is that is lists conditions for creating new trees, domains and OUs, which helps you understand the decision process. The pages on domain naming are consistent with other Microsoft publications, but this text (as with others) offers no explanation on Microsoft’s position.

The authors also use a case-study approach to explain site topology design. I found this to be an extremely effective method of providing an understanding of replication types, naming contexts, sites, server types, transport types, connection objects and the global catalog.

This is a good technical reference for systems engineers looking to find the necessary surface details about the mechanics of AD and Win2K. There’s just enough coverage of replication, the KCC, the AD database, authentication, and integration with Unix and Netware to get you comfortable. The text also offers many VBScript examples, along with an entire chapter devoted to scripting, so a background in scripting or development would be helpful. There are a good number of pages spent on migration from NT 4.0 domains. The examples are quite grand in scale, but they are explained well enough that a seasoned engineer should be able to scale them down accordingly.

All administration topics are covered through scripting. So if you’re looking for a reference on AD administration basics through other tools, this isn’t the book for you.

There are two chapters on network-traffic analysis that are packed full of details, covering replication traffic and authentication traffic. Savvy network engineers will find this information crucial in maintaining a stable and robust infrastructure.

If you’re an Exchange administrator you’ll find value in Chapter 8, which covers Exchange and AD integration. Again, the examples are large, but a seasoned administrator should be able to scale it down. Outside of this chapter, there’s not much in this text for Exchange.

This text takes on AD from the enterprise level and offers tips and guidelines accordingly. This isn’t a setup manual and all suggestions found in this text should be carefully evaluated against your needs. Because of the grand scale, this text is better suited for experienced professionals versus the novice.

About the Author

Joseph Stoppiello, MCSE, is president and CEO of ITwirx, a systems integrator and network architecture company. He's been designing Windows architectures and Windows-based network architectures for 11 years.

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