Why Should I Upgrade My Network to Windows .NET Server?
Many networks are still in the process of being upgraded from Windows NT 4.0 to Windows 2000, and Windows .NET Server family will be out within a year. One of the biggest questions I get asked as a Microsoft Trainer is whether I recommend waiting for Windows .NET Server. My answer is always NO! The reason that I feel that administrators should not wait is that Microsoft is viewing Windows .NET Server as a point release to Windows 2000. If you look at the version number for Windows 2000, you see that it is 5.0; the version number for Windows .NET is 5.1. Most of the enhancements that are being made in Windows .NET are tweaks that will really help any existing Windows 2000 network. To upgrade most Windows 2000 networks to Windows .NET will not take much in the way of planning and should be a painless procedure.
This article and the second one in this two-part series will explain the enhancements from Windows 2000 Server to Windows .NET Server. The items described in this article are accurate as of Window .NET Servers Beta 3. Many of the items that are listed are still being modified, and there may also be additional enhancements between now and the final release of .NET Server!
This article's focus is on the enhancements to the network and the server. These enhancements will help to make the Windows .NET Server operating system be one of the best ever. As you will see, some of the major changes in Active Directory will be a benefit to enterprise wide networks.
Active Directory is the single piece that holds a modern network together. Many of the reasons that enterprise networks have not upgraded to Microsoft Windows 2000 are the inadequacies of Active Directory in a large environment. As you see below, the Microsoft Windows .NET Servers are taking care of these problems. forsee that all remaining concerns related to upgrading from Windows NT 4.0 will be laid to rest with the release of Microsoft Windows .NET Servers.
The biggest change to Active Directory (AD) is the capability to create a two-way transitive trust between two .NET Server forests. When a forest trust is created, all domains in the two forests now operate as if they were one forest with multiple schemas. This tremendously improves the capability of AD. One of the problems a large company has had is that as portions of the corporation are acquired and sold, the AD structure has to be revised. The capability to create forest trusts helps to alleviate this problem. This gives them the capability to add the new company to the current AD structure without impacting the current corporate infrastructure or having to rebuild the newly acquired companies AD structure. When the corporation sells off part of a company that has been set up as a separate forest, it will give them the capability to sever the trust and continue on without any issues.
Active Directory User and Computer Console Improvements
An administrator now has the ability to modify attributes of multiple users at the same time. This will help administrators so that they do not have to export, modify, and then import AD objects in order to make minor changes to objects. In Windows 2000, an administrator could move one only object at a time. With .NET Servers, multiple objects can be selected and moved within the domain hierarchy. The search features of AD have been improved to provide a more efficient browseless search to minimize network traffic. Commonly used search parameters will also be saved for the user. In order to make administration of AD easier, new command-line tools have been added to AD.
An administrator can now control which parts of a DNS AD integrated zone will get replicated out to which domain controllers. This will help secure DNS servers that will allow limited access from the Internet and still allow them to be an AD integrated zone. Global catalog replication has also been improved. Windows 2000 global catalogs replicated too much data. With .NET global catalogs, only the additions are replicated out across the global catalogs.
Installation of Domain Controllers Improved
Within a Windows 2000 AD hierarchy, the only way to create a domain controller was to run dcpromo. Within .NET Server, administrators now can create a backup of the system state of an existing domain controller for the domain in which they need a new domain controller. They are able to restore this system state backup and use it to create the new domain controller. This will also help with the initialization of the domain controller when the new server is connected to a domain via a slow WAN link. The new domain controller will still need to be connected to a live domain controller to replicate some critical and non-critical data that is not in the system state backup.
Renaming of Domain Controllers and Domains
After the domain has been promoted to a pure .NET domain, an administrator can then change the names of domain controllers without demoting them first. After the forest has been promoted to a pure .NET forest, then the administrator can change the names of domains without having to demote and re-create the domain. With this capability, an administrator can also move existing domains to other locations within the domain hierarchy.