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Active Directory in a Real-Life Global Organization

Henderson, a part of AMP—its larger global parent company—came about when AMP purchased Henderson Investors.

Henderson originally was a company based in the United Kingdom. AMP's own investment company, AMP Asset Management, had some branch offices around the globe. When the Henderson and AMP Asset Management organizations came together to form Henderson Global Investors, they had no effective network, and had disparate systems and services. For staff members around the globe to communicate with each other was, needless to say, difficult. Most offices had Lotus Notes and some Microsoft Exchange, but often the base operating systems for desktops and servers were different between and within some of the regions around the globe.

Senior management saw that the company needed to develop a world-class global presence, not just in the Asset Management field (its core business), but also within their internal IT systems.

KCI was contracted to begin to assist Henderson to develop the internal systems network and standards, and to provide a global communications system in the form of an intranet to support its business. This project included the development and deployment of the infrastructure, business processes, and the code to get the systems up and running. The best part of all? It needed to be done in 120 days!

With such tight timeframes, planning and design began almost immediately. Because the solution was to be delivered on Microsoft platforms, KCI and Henderson enlisted Microsoft New Zealand's help to design and deliver the AD structure.

One of the largest problems was coming up with a design that would allow each of the IT sections around the globe to retain control of its existing domains. With a rollout time of only 120 days, it would take too long to migrate all the existing users to a new single domain (and IT managers in the regions did not want to lose control of their own region's resources).

It was decided that a dis-contiguous namespace would be implemented, and each of the region's domains would reside under a single parent domain. Figure 1 highlights the design, but note that I have changed the names of the domains for the purposes of this article.

Figure 1 Design of the AD forest for Henderson.

But why a dis-contiguous namespace? Well, because Henderson was part of AMP, the larger global organization, the Henderson domain needed to be able to support any new companies that became part of the IT strategy that Henderson was designing. To this end, if AMP becomes part of the Henderson AD forest, a new tree just needs to be created within the existing forest (off of the Root domain), and voila! AMP is part of the AD without compromising or giving up control of its own internal systems.

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