Designing Development Support Infrastructures (Part 3 of 5): Using Active Directory to Support Internal Development
The Future Gets Brighter with Windows .NET Server
While Windows 2000 and Active Directory allow organizations to review their understanding of complex development environments, Windows .NET Server (WNS), the next version of Windows 2000 Server, will only further support these concepts. Two new features in particular will assist the development process: forest trusts and application data partitions.
Forest trusts allow organizations to create a global trust relationship between two forests. Today, for one forest to trust another, administrators must create inter-domain trusts between each domain of each forest. This is impractical at best. With WNS, administrators will be able to create a single forest-level trust that will extend the transitive nature of intra-forest trusts to other forests. This will be most useful for schema-based development projects. While developers need to work in a separate forest in order to limit the impact of schema changes on the production environment, they'll be able to globally graduate finished products from one forest to another through the use of a forest trust. This process is illustrated in Figure 4.
Figure 4 Developers can use one-way forest trusts to graduate applications.
Forest trusts also support the creation of application forests. These secondary forests can be installed centrally and made available to users through forest trusts. Using an application forest ensures that schema modifications don't affect the production forest. In addition, deployments are simplified, since domain controllers are all located centrally. Application services can be made available through Windows Terminal Services, further simplifying the deployment process even in regional offices.
For applications that don't require schema modifications, application partitions will prove even more useful than the forest trust. An application partition is a data partition within the directory that can be used to store non-security-oriented data. In fact, the application partition is simply a collection of IP addresses within the directory. Application partitions can also include more than one domain. Information stored within the partition will replicate to all members of the partition. For example, a developer can create an application partition to store an application's COM+ objects. Several such partitions can be stored on the same server, even if they contain different versions of the same COM+ object.
When it's time to graduate the application, all that's required is to change the scope of the partition, adding new IP addresses to increase its breadth. Thus, you can begin development within a single server, expanding the partition to include another server when you're ready, and still remaining within the development domain. When testing is complete and you're ready to begin deployment, expand the partition again, this time extending it to include servers in the production domain. Active Directory replication automatically manages the deployment process. This process is illustrated in Figure 5.
Figure 5 Using application partitions to graduate applications within the directory.