Active Directory design considerations: part 1 (introduction)

This content is 16 years old. I don't routinely update old blog posts as they are only intended to represent a view at a particular point in time. Please be warned that the information here may be out of date.

A few weeks back, I wrote a series of posts on the architectural considerations for designing a predominantly-Microsoft IT infrastructure, based on the MCS Talks: Enterprise Infrastructure series (Introduction, Remote offices, Controlling network access, Virtualisation, Security, High availability and data centre consolidation).

Session 2 of the MCS Talks series looked at Active Directory (AD), so I’m kicking off a new series of posts here based on the information from that webcast, supplemented where appropriate with my own experiences.

The original webcast on which this series was based was presented by Andrew Hill and Rob Lowe (who are both consultants with Microsoft Consulting Services in the UK) and they stressed that there are 6 tenets to AD design which are inextricably linked:

  • Complexity.
  • Cost.
  • Fault tolerance.
  • Performance.
  • Scalability.
  • Security.

The main point that they wanted to make was to let requirements dictate design (to avoid over-complicating the solution) and that is the focus in each of the posts that will make up this series.

The rest of this series will examine key design considerations for forest/domain design, organisational unit structure, group policy objects, security groups, domain controller placement, site topology, domain controller configuration and DNS. Two important areas that have not been included though are backup/recovery of AD (I’m reading a book on AD disaster recovery and will post my review soon) and delegation of administration. Also, some previous knowledge is assumed – this is not an introduction to Active Directory.

Microsoft has also provided a collection of AD design resources on the MCS Talks blog.

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