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Hour 4. Configuring Server Roles and Services

What You’ll Learn in This Hour:

After you have installed Windows Server 2008 on a computer and configured some of the basic settings in the Control Panel and the Server Manager, the next step is to configure the server to fulfill its role (or roles) on your network. A single server can actually serve a number of different roles and offer a variety of services. However, the number of specialized servers that you will need depends not only on the services required by your users, but also the size of the network and the amount of traffic the network experiences. In this hour, you’ll learn to identify different server roles and will look at how services are managed on the network.

Defining Your Network Infrastructure

The Microsoft networking model (going as far back as Microsoft LAN Manager and including the Windows NT and Windows Server 2003 environments) has always embraced the domain as the basic administrative container for the network. A domain is a logical grouping of computers and other devices that are managed as objects by a Windows domain controller. The domain maintains its own directory database of user accounts and controls all published resources within the domain, such as printers and shared files.

By the Way

Microsoft operating systems, including the network operating systems such as Windows Server 2008, enable you to share resources between computers without creating a domain. You can set up a workgroup and share resources between computers in what is termed a peer-to-peer network. Workgroups do not provide the security or scalability of the domain model and should be used only in small office settings or for home networks.

Although a domain could potentially serve thousand of users, there is often the need to go beyond the limitations provided by a single domain and expand the network’s scale. The directory services provided by Windows Server 2008’s Active Directory Domain Services (AD DS) provide you with a hierarchical structure in which domains can be nested within other domains.

Let’s look at the domain hierarchy of Windows Server 2008. As already mentioned, the basic unit is the domain. The next largest unit is the tree. A tree is a collection of child domains. The tree itself is defined by a root domain, which serves as the parent domain for the child domains that branch from the domain root.

The largest administrative structure provided by the domain hierarchy is the forest. A forest is a collection of domain trees.

To truly understand how domains interact within trees and forests, you need to understand trust relationships. A trust is an electronic security agreement between domains. Users can log on to their domain but still get at resources in another domain if that domain “trusts” the user’s domain.

When you create child domains within a domain tree with Windows Server, the child domains and the parent domain all are assigned transitive trusts. A transitive trust is a two-way street between the domains.

The domains trust each other, so they share each other’s resources. This means that all the domains in a tree trust the other domains in the tree to use their resources (such as printers and DNS [Domain Name Service] server). So, the transitive trust relationships provide a reciprocating resource-sharing environment that flows down through the tree.

By the Way

This notion of a hierarchical directory services structure and how Active Directory Domain Services provides the infrastructure is discussed in more detail in Hour 8, “Understanding and Configuring Active Directory Domain Services.”

You create a domain in the Windows Server 2008 environment by bringing the first domain controller online. The way to create a domain controller is by installing Active Directory Domain Services on a server running Windows Server 2008 (or an earlier version of Windows Server, such as Windows 2000 Server or Windows Server 2003). So, you will have to deploy at least one domain controller on your network for it to take advantage of the Active Directory hierarchy. Let’s take a look at other server roles that often need to be filled on a network.

If you are deploying a new network (or for that matter adding to an existing network), it makes sense to put both a network map and an implementation plan together. Software such as Microsoft Visio enables you to create diagrams of the network. Creating a diagram can help you to visualize the number of servers and other devices that you need to implement the network.

Your implementation plan can be as simple as a to-do list or can provide more information such as costs, resources needed, and a timeline. If you have some familiarity with project management processes and want a very detailed plan, you can use software such as Microsoft Project, which enables you to create a timeline and manage resources (including employees) as you work through the implementation process.

By the Way

Windows Server 2008 also provides a new virtualization feature that allows you to deploy virtual servers on your network. These virtual servers have the same functionality as a physical server, however, any one physical server can actually be deployed as more than one virtual server on the network (provided its hardware configuration can handle running multiple instances of a network operating system). This opens up the possibilities for how server roles and services are provided on the network but also means that you will need to do more up-front planning and initial benchmarking if you want to take advantage of the virtualization role that Windows Server 2008 provides.

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