The Microsoft Enterprise Platform Support Directory Services Team blog is for me one of the most important sources of Directory Services (Microsoft flavoured) information on the internet; drawn from over 10 years of having to support Active Directory (AD-DS) in the real world and I had the pleasure honour of meeting the owner of the blog (Ned Pyle) a couple of years ago in Redmond.

Late last week I asked Ned a question and within what seemed like minutes he had answered,  I was going to post Ned’s response here, in a slightly different format, but @chrisbeams let me know I had made it to this week’s “Dear Ned” column; so why reinvent the wheel?

Here is my question and Ned’s response.



Microsoft have made available an Exchange 2010 offline helpfile (CHM format), it makes interesting reading, discussing the steps that must be taken in a migration or transition project to Exchange 2010 from either Exchange 2003 or Exchange 2007. 



Note: The download file is a self extracting ZIP file, if after extracting the CHM file, you cannot read the content then:

Right Click on the Exch2010Help.chm file

Select Properties


Select Unblock

This will enable the file to be read.

The Microsoft Infrastructure Planning and Design (IPD) guides are a series of documents that used to be known as the Windows Server System Reference Architecture.   The IPD guides help clarify and streamline design processes for Microsoft infrastructure technologies, each guide addresses a specific infrastructure technology or scenario. All IPD guides share a common structure:

1. Definition of the technical decision flow through the planning process.
2. Listing of decisions to be made and the commonly available options and considerations.
3. Relating the decisions and options to the business in terms of cost, complexity, and other characteristics.
4. Framing decisions in terms of additional questions to the business to ensure a comprehensive alignment with the appropriate business landscape.

In the latest release of the IPD guides, many technology stacks have been updated for Windows Server 2008 R2.

New! Dynamic Data Center

Active Directory Domain Services – guide version 2.0 updated for Windows Server 2008 R2
File Services – guide version 2.0 includes Windows Server 2008 R2
Print Services – guide version 2.0 includes Windows Server 2008 R2
Windows Deployment Services – guide version 2.0 updated for Windows Server 2008 R2
Windows Server Virtualization (for Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V and Virtual Server 2005 R2 SP1) – guide version 2.0 updated for Windows Server 2008 R2
Windows Server 2008 R2 Remote Desktop Services – in Windows Server 2008 R2 Terminal Services becomes Remote Desktop Services

System Center Operations Manager 2007 – guide version 2.0 updated for System Center Operations Manager 2007 R2
System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008 – guide version 2.0 updated for SCVMM 2008 R2
Internet Information Services – guide version 2.0 includes IIS 7.5
Exchange Online—Evaluating Software-plus-Services – guide version 1.4
SharePoint Online—Evaluating Software-plus-Services – guide version 1.1
Selecting the Right Virtualization Technology – guide version 2.0
DirectAccess – guide version 1.2
Windows Optimized Desktop Scenarios – guide version 1.1

Microsoft Enterprise Desktop Virtualization (MED-V)
Selecting the Right NAP Architecture
Forefront Unified Access Gateway
Microsoft Application Virtualization 4.6
SQL Server 2008
System Center Configuration Manager 2007 SP1 with R2
System Center Data Protection Manager 2007 with SP1
Terminal Services

Download them from here.

This recent whitepaper from Microsoft discusses having large mailboxes without breaking your budget and keeping e-mail on the Exchange Server instead of allowing it to be scattered in Outlook Data Files (.PST files). By centrally storing email on the Exchange server it  helps reduce the risk of data loss; improves regulatory compliance and increase productivity among both workers and IT staff.

It made some quite interesting reading and provides “food for thought


Microsoft over the past few years has regularly published component posters – these posters provide a visual reference that assist in understanding how key technologies interface with each other.

 Windows Server 2008 R2 Feature Components

Windows Server 2008 Feature and Active Directory Components

Windows Server 2008 R2: Hyper-V Component Architecture

Windows Server 2008 R2 Hyper-V Component Architecture (with Service Pack 1)

Windows Server 2008 R2: Remote Desktop Services Component Architecture Poster

Windows Server 2003 Feature Components

Exchange 2007 Feature Components

Exchange 2010 Feature Components

OCS 2007 R2 Feature Components

Volume Activation 2.0

Whilst they might not easily print out on a sheet of A3 – your friendly printshop may be able to help.

Microsoft have made available an Active Directory Design Guide, the guide provides guidance on the general recommendations for the design, deployment and management of an Active Directory environment in a healthcare organisation according to current best practices; but can be easily adapted to suite most organisations needs.

The purpose of the guide is to help accelerate Active Directory design and deployment and provide a framework for a more consistent network operating environment.

Microsoft have pulled the guide….

Download the guide.

Active Directory – Cosmetic Forestry

Over the past year the media have reported on banks and companies facing impending doom; government bailouts and other measures to ensure the global economy does not implode.  As a result many mergers and aquisitions have occured and IT departments are now facing multiple challenges.

One such scenario may be:  A manager who during logon notices a domain name is but realises his company is and issues an edict to rename the environment or remove it, stating we bought them; I don’t want to see their name everyday when I log on.

How to convince the suits that it is purely cosmetic?

Trying to explain the technical issues around renaming an Active Directory environment to someone holding the budget for I.T. who is not necessarily technical is a major challenge, but associate costs to making the change and suddenly you are speaking the same language.

So what costs are involved?

The costs involved can be huge for very little gain, if any.  Try to associate a value to each of the listed challenges.


This information is based on a Windows Server 2003 based Active Directory

Domain Rename

To rename the domain one would have to touch all the domain controllers and all domain joined machines.


If Exchange is in the environment, you face multiple challenges.

Exchange 2007 – Does not even support a domain rename if installed; KB925822
Exchange 2003 > SP1 Supports domain rename but needs additional administrator intervention KB842116
Exchange 2003 RTM – Does not even support a domain rename; KB822590
Exchange 2000 All Versions – Does not even support a domain rename; KB822590

Certificate Services

The entire PKI infrastructure would have to be uninstalled and started afresh.

Now some key challenges have been identified,  consider COTS applications, bespoke applications and custom code that all may use Active Directory.  All of this would need testing and then consider the impact to the business if it went wrong?



Having worked in IT for a number of years, what often appear to be simple changes to the environment are the most complex and ones that you wish you had never started.  If the boss does shout and asks why he can see  Perhaps with these few identified challenges you can have a starting point in your defence as to why it has not been done.

So with these facts in mind, if you are designing a new Active Directory, keep one eye on the future as nobody knows what that may hold and use a non-company specific domain name, which in turn may help you or your peers in the future. … but in reality the most simplistic approach,  instead of renaming the environment may be that of migration into a clean or existing forest.

(this is an old blog post – revisited)