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Analyzing the Effect of the Infrastructure Design on the Existing Technical Environment

After you have established the Active Directory design, you need to examine the effect that the new design will have on the existing environment. For example, will the existing hardware and software be able to support the new Active Directory infrastructure? In any case, these issues must be identified before rolling out the new design so that they can be addressed before the Active Directory infrastructure is in place.

Analyzing Hardware and Software Requirements

It's important to gather and document information pertaining to the current systems in use. Information about the existing systems and how they will integrate with Active Directory needs to be included in the initial design plans. Use the following questions as a guide when documenting this information:

  • Do the current systems meet the hardware requirements?

  • Is the hardware currently in use supported by Windows 2000?

  • What operating systems are currently in use? What service packs have been applied?

  • How will these operating systems integrate with Active Directory?

  • Will any operating systems have to be upgraded to another version (NT 4.0) before installing Windows Server 2003?

  • Does the business have any DNS servers configured? How will they interoperate within Active Directory?

Not only do the systems have to be assessed, but attention must also be given to the applications running on them. What applications does the business currently use? What applications do the business and its employees require when performing their job tasks? After you've determined which applications are required, be sure to test them to see how they will integrate within Active Directory.

NOTE

This might seem like an unimportant step in the design of Active Directory, but it will be much easier for you and the organization if it is known beforehand that some systems or applications need to be upgraded.

Analyzing Interoperability Requirements

Interoperability issues can pertain to hardware, operating systems, and applications. All three of these components will already exist within a network infrastructure. One of the important steps before performing a rollout is to determine how these components will interoperate with Windows Server 2003. For example, is the server hardware supported by Windows Server 2003? If existing operating systems are being used, how will they interoperate within the new environment? Interoperability issues should be identified before rolling out the new infrastructure so they can be addressed in the design plan.

Analyzing the Current Level of Service Within the Existing Technical Environment

The rollout of Windows Server 2003 is bound to have an effect on the technical support within an organization. The current technical support requirements must be assessed to determine how they will be affected. If a business currently relies on internal staff for technical support, what effect will Active Directory have on this? The skill set of the current technical support staff should be assessed and a training plan put into place. The IT staff might require highly specialized training on the Active Directory features and functions that are being implemented. Imagine performing a rollout of Windows Server 2003 only to discover afterward that the IT staff is unable to provide the technical support necessary to maintain the new structure.

When designing the training plan, consider including end users as well as the IT staff. Providing end users with some basic training on the Active Directory infrastructure being implemented might help reduce the technical support requirements as the upgrades and rollouts occur.

If a business currently outsources all or some of the technical support requirements to external companies, the effect that the rollout will have on these arrangements must be considered. When the business begins to migrate to Windows Server 2003, consider whether the company currently responsible for the business's technical support can still meet the business's needs. If not, this job will need to be managed by a company that is fluent in the Active Directory technologies.

Analyzing Network Requirements

The new infrastructure also will have specific network requirements; for example, LAN/WAN connectivity, available bandwidth, and server distribution. After you've analyzed the existing network, you can determine whether it is capable of supporting the new infrastructure. If not, certain areas of the network might need to be upgraded before performing the rollout.

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