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Windows Server 2003 on HP ProLiant Servers : Migration Case Studies (part 1) - County Government Office

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1/6/2013 6:02:16 PM

One of the best ways to understand how to accomplish a migration is to look at others who have had successful migrations. Microsoft offers a number of case studies on its Web site at http://www.microsoft.com/windowsserver2003/evaluation/casestudies/default.aspx?ddiDirectoryID=65.

In this section, I have shared some migrations I've been involved with as well.

County Government Office

Although I did not get permission to use this customer's name, this is an excellent example of a very small migration. This was a small department of a county government in the western United States. The department had an existing Windows NT 4.0 domain, and a hundred or so users who were mostly at one site, although a few were at two other sites and a few were roaming users. The department had an IT staff of only three, and its DNS services were supplied by the county IT department. In addition, the department had a mission-critical application that mainly allowed the users to use templates and create reports. All of this was stored on a server, and the department wanted some redundancy. We performed the assessment and design. The namespace was designed to be a single domain with a migration strategy of starting from scratch because of the following:

  • With hardware reaching end of life, and with fewer than 200 users, the department opted to purchase new hardware, create the domain infrastructure, and then just create new user accounts rather than migrate the old Windows NT users. So, this was not a migration, but a re-creation.

  • With more groups than I could imagine for an organization this size, most of which were not even used anymore, the new domain structure let the department start from scratch on groups as well.

The department faced an interesting problem. Because this office was subordinate to the county government, and no other departments were ready to go to Windows 2000 at the time, they needed a strategy to move to Windows 2000, without having to tear it down when the county government moved to Windows 2000 and created a new domain structure. In addition, because they were receiving DNS services from the county IT department, they were concerned about disrupting the county's DNS structure. They wanted to be autonomous, but have the flexibility to join the county later when they migrated to Windows 2000. We proposed the solution illustrated in Figure 1. The key to this working was to get the county to agree to a name for the county's Windows 2000 forest when they migrated to Windows 2000. After the name was decided (and the current DNS namespace was a reasonable name to suggest), our customer could do the following:

1.
Decide on the department's domain name (i.e. Dept2.County.gov).

2.
The department will create the County.gov forest and County.gov root domain and simply host it on its hardware until the county moves to Windows 2000. Then, all they have to do is add DCs to the domain and decommission the two County.gov DCs that the department created.

note

Schema changes could be introduced into the forest by this department's IT staff by installing applications that make schema changes. They could also make custom changes. In both cases, these changes will be a permanent part of the schema. The forest will have to live with those changes.

3.
Identify the IP address of the Windows 2000 DNS that will host the temporary County.gov domain, and then ask the county IT department for a DNS delegation for the following zones:

  • _msdcs.county.gov

  • _sites.county.gov

  • _Tcp.county.gov

  • _udp.county.gov

They would also have to ask the county IT department to create the A record for every host that will not be resolved in the root domain, which would include every DC in the root domain and any other root domain resources.

4.
Create the County.gov domain.

5.
On the Windows 2000 DNSs hosting County.gov, delegate the dept2.county.gov zone to DNSs hosting the department's domain. Because the county IT department controls the county.gov domain/zone, the county department would be the one to create (another) delegation for the dept1.county.gov zone—this would not be done within the root AD domain. In addition, note that the W2K DNSs in the root do not host the county.gov zone, only subzones of that zone via the delegation in step 3.

6.
Create the department's domain with DNSs.

Figure 1. Proposed County.gov namespace to allow Dept. 2 to join a forest and allow for expansion for other departments.


Of course the other option would have been to just create a single autonomous domain, forward out-of-domain requests to the county IT DNS, and then migrate users, computers, groups, and member servers when the county Windows 2000 forest was created. Windows Server 2003's Kerberos Trusts would now allow each of the departments to have its own forest with appropriately configured trusts to allow authentication as needed, allowing even more flexibility for this environment. This would eliminate the dependency on selecting a root domain name as well as not binding the county to any schema changes made by the departments because each would have its own autonomous forest.

The DNS structure described is a bit unorthodox, but uses the strategy that Compaq used. Clients in the child domain find SRV records in the root by going to the county.gov BIND server and then getting referred to the Windows 2000 DNS server that hosts the four SRV zones.

When the county was ready to migrate, it could add additional DCs as needed for the existing county.gov domain (probably adding some in additional sites). It could then create the OU structure, add groups, and so on. Then, it could migrate the users and groups, computer accounts, member servers, and so on, much like a restructure plan would work. This is very similar to HP's migration into the Compaq namespace, described in the HP case study described in the next section, though on a much smaller scale. Of course, the key to this whole plan is getting the county to decide on a Windows 2000 domain name.

note

This approach could be used in other instances where one business unit—perhaps one company whose parent is a holding company—is ready to migrate, but the parent and peers are not.


This migration could have been helped by Windows Server 2003's Domain Rename feature, removing the dependency on getting the county to decide on a name The department could have just created a root domain with a placeholder name, handled its own DNS, and forwarded to the county DNS servers. When the county moved to Windows 2003, the department could rename its root domain and leave everything intact. Although Domain Rename could be used in this situation, it's a poor design that creates a namespace with the intention of renaming it later on. Remember that Domain Rename is not trivial. In addition, if the department had installed applications that did not support Domain Rename, then this plan would fail.

Migration from Windows 2000 to Windows Server 2003 in an infrastructure this small would require a simple in-place upgrade.
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