International Marketing Inc. IMI is a relatively new marketing company based out of Houston. TX has a Windows Server 2012 domain that operates at Windows Server 2012 functional level. They recently acquired Media Guru Group based out of Richmond, VA, which has a Windows Server 2008 domain that functions on Windows Server 2003 functional level.
Recently, the company has developed some concerns relating to its information system. First, the corporation is concerned about adopting multiple domains in its information systems. IMI is also concerned with disaster recovery of its systems, security, and physical space of servers at both the Houston and Richmond branches. File sharing is also a big concern to the company since the locations are connected to the internet independently.
IMI has enlisted my services as an IT consultant for their Windows network services infrastructure. My responsibility is to supply IMI with a solution which addresses the integration and configuration of their Active Directory updates. IMI wishes to implement the right solution to address their acquisition of a new company and its Active Directory forest comprised of a single domain. IMI will greatly benefit from using Windows Server 2012 to manage their network. Windows Server 2012 brings great updates to security and functionality over past editions of Windows. In this proposal, the major areas I will cover are Active Directory Infrastructure, File and storage Solution, Disaster Recovery, High availability, and DNS and DHCP. These roles have features that will make International Marketing Inc. run smoothly.
Active Directory Infrastructure
International Marketing, Inc. should embrace the new Windows Server 2012 and its information systems due to the following reasons. With windows server 2012, the organization has the freedom to choose the interface. Liberty to do so means that by installing the Server Core, maintaining performance and security becomes easy. Additionally, Windows Server 2012 has an on and off switch. Moreover, having a multi-server server manager allows Windows Server 2012 to easily deploy roles and features to the virtual and physical server. It also provides for easy merging of servers for better management, therefore, simplifying the administration of servers (Snover, 2012).
Remote Desktop Service is another window server 2012 feature that provides the ability to centralize and control the data and applications that IMIs employees use. From a variety of network end-devices, employees of the company can work from anywhere. Compliance and control are a strict priority through Remote Desktop Service. Windows Server 2012 also has a simplified licensing. Through the years, Microsoft has been working on the difficulty in finding the right version and cost (Snover, 2012). Only four versions of Windows Server 2012 are available; essential, datacenter, standard, and foundation. Licensing of Windows Server versions depends on the number of users. For instance, essential is approved for 25 while foundation allows for 15 users only. Acquiring and incorporation of the server are entirely dependent on the size of the enterprise and cost of the right edition. For example, IMIs ideal version is Window Server 2012 which is excellent for cloud-connectivity.
Window Server 2012 also enjoys the advantages of HyperV Replica administrator responsible for replicating their Hyper-Virtual machine from Hyperv host at a primary site, in this case, Houston, TX to another Hyper-V host at the replica site, Richmond, VA. This feature boasts the benefit of reducing ownership cost in an organization by facilitating storage and workload agonistic solutions that offer efficient, effective, and periodic replication over IP-based networks across various storage subsystems and sites in Houston and Richmond. The main advantage of Hyper-V is that this virtual machine can easily replicate in different locations ensuring availability as well as higher protection. Lastly, window server 2012 possesses the Direct Access Control (DAC) feature which collaborates with IPv6 which does not call for switching off of the server and any conversion of technologies.
Figure 1: Active directory components
Implementation of forest functional levels
To implement the right solution to address their acquisition of a new company and its Active Directory forest, International Marketing Inc. has to implement forest functional levels. With the usage of windows server 2003 coming to an end, Windows 2003 domain controllers (DCs) require upgrading to Windows Server 2012. Therefore, any domain controller that operates on Windows Server 2003 is redundant. Upgrading of the forest functional levels to Windows Server 2012 is necessary to stop a domain controller that runs Windows Server 2003 from being included in the environment. As the consultant, I strongly recommend that IMI should update their forest functional level (FFL) since the 2003 FFL used in the Richmond site will no longer be compatible in future versions of Windows Server. To allow new FFL features, all domain controllers in the forest must run Windows Server 2012 version that matches the forest functional level value or the later version. For instance, to activate Active Directory Recycle Bin in both the Houston and Richmond sites, all domain controllers should operate on Windows Server 2012 while the forest functional level should be elevated to at least Windows Server 2008 ("Understanding When to Create a Forest Trust," n.d.).
Implementation of cross-forests trusts
International Marketing Inc. needs to implement cross-forest trusts. The need for creating a forest trust between forest root domains arises when the FFL is Windows Server 2003 or higher. Implementing a cross-forest trust between the domains of the two sites with an FFL of Windows Server 2003 or higher accounts for a one-way or two-way trust affiliation amongst all domains in each forest. Forest trusts are suitable for organizations undergoing mergers or acquisitions, application service providers, collaborative business extranets, and organizations exhibiting administrative independence ("Understanding When to Create a Forest Trust," n.d.).
A one-way forest trust between two forests allows the merged sites to utilize the resources in the trusting forest. The downside is that the trust functions only in one direction. For example, if IMI implements a one-way trust, Employees based in Houston can access resources in Richmond, but workers in Richmond cannot access network resources in Houston. A two-way forest trust, on the other hand, allows employees from both sites to simultaneously use the resources as well as domains in the other forest implicitly. For example, if IMI implements a two-way forest trust between Houston and Richmond, members of both sites can access resources located in both forests using the same trust.
The Domain model that a company applies affects its performance while also acting as a tool for determining the companys effectiveness. During the process of domain model selection, International Marketing Inc. should put into consideration the various aspects that will affect the selected Domain model. The first aspect is how large is the capacity or volume of the network assigned to Active Directory Domain service. IMI should select a model that can efficiently replicate information with minor effects on the bandwidth. Furthermore, IMI must consider the number of users (Snover, 2012). IMI has restructured their organization to a total of 110 employees in their Houston and Richmond sites. Each location has following departments:
Executives (5 in Houston, 4 in Richmond) manage and run the company
Accounts and Sales Department (15 in Houston and 15 in Richmond) perform market research and maintain accounts
Creative, Media and Production Department (49 employees in Houston) advertising
Human Resources and Finances (12 employees in Houston) perform HR and financial duties
IT (5 in Houston and 5 in Richmond) manage IT for the company
Networking equipment is already in place for both sites having separate Active Directory Domains. I strongly suggest that IMI should operate under a single domain and neglect the multi-domain model. The single domain remains the simplest domain design that a company can effectively use. In contrast with other domain plans, single domain model assures replication of all information across all domain controllers. Moreover, single domain model reduces the number of existing deployed domains. Reducing this number minimizes the intricacy of the application subsequently reducing the total ownership cost. If IMI implements this model, any domain controller in the model can successfully validate a user who tries to access the domain in the forest. Lastly, I propose that IMI should install the single domain model because of efficient replication of data to its Houston and Richmond sites that host domain controllers.
Read only Domain Controllers
Read-only domain controllers (RODCs) are additional domain controllers in Windows Server 2012 that hosts complete, read-only copies of the Active Directory database segments as well as a read-only duplicate of the SYSVOL folder. By caching credentials, RODCs tackle some of the challenges that IMI will encounter in the Houston and Richmond branches that might lack the physical security common in datacenters and hub sites. Nevertheless, IMI must be ready to deploy RODC in scenarios of special administrative requirements such as the successful running of a line-of-business (LOB) application ("AD DS: Read-Only Domain Controllers," n.d.).
File and storage solution
For file and storage optimization, IMI must utilize BranchCache. BranchCache refers to a wide area network technology that ensures bandwidth optimization incorporated in Windows Server 2012 operating system. To enhance WAN bandwidth, BranchCache will duplicate content from the Houston servers and caches it at the Richmond branch location, offering client computers at the branch office access to information locally instead of through the WAN.
Advantages of utilizing BranchCache is that it caches web, file, and application content at all company sites, facilitating access data through the local area network (LAN) rather than over slow WAN connections. BranchCache also minimizes WAN traffic as well as time wasted in opening files on the network at both sites. BranchCache constantly offers users the most recent data while ensuring content security by encrypting the caches on the cache server and also on the end users side ("BranchCache Deployment Guide," n.d.).
Windows Server 2012 provides a Dynamic Access Control (DAC) which is a great feature for file and Storage solutions. DAC assists in creating a more integrated security model for accessing the network. Dynamic Access Control functions by categorizing useful data both, automatically and manually, based on the content and creator of files. Additionally, Windows Server 2012 requires large storage places, a feature that permits the use of economic hard drives that creates storage which can be partitioned into segments similar to those on physical disks.
After the acquisition of Media Guru Group, one of the main concerns of IMI will be data recovery. To ensure that the company can recover its data, Windows Server Backup is a good option. Windows Server Backup consists of command-line tools, Windows PowerShell cmdlets, and a Microsoft Management Console (MMC) snap-in that offers backup and recovery solutions. IMI will be in a position to back up the entire server, a selected portion, state of the system, or specific data. Windows Server Backup will assist IMI to recover volumes, files, and folde...
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