Windows Server 2003 : Moving from Workgroups to Domain Environments (part 2) - Configuring Sites

3/6/2013 8:40:08 PM

3. Configuring Sites

Sites represent collections of forest member computers that have high speed network connectivity between them. This typically means that the computers are located at the same geographical location, but this does not have to be so. The key requirement is that all members of the site have high-speed network connectivity between them. Sites can contain DCs, servers, and desktop computers. These systems may be all from the same domain or from multiple domains in the same forest. Systems from different forests cannot be in the same AD site. (They may, of course, be in the same physical location.), For example, a site may consist of six servers in Boston, two DCs and 300 desktops in New York, and 100 desktops in Jersey City if all of the computers are members of the same forest. If, however, 50 of the desktops in Jersey City and 10 of the New York desktops are members in a different forest they cannot be members of the same site with the other desktops and the two DCs.

Creating and configuring sites entails using the AD Sites and Services administration tool to add a site, and then moving DCs and computers to the new site. When you create and configure sites, your network realizes several important benefits, including the following:

  • Authentication may improve because it does not have to take place across the WAN.

  • Replication is more frequent within sites, as opposed to between them. This means less replication traffic on the WAN.

  • Services and the location of DCs is site-sensitive and, therefore, should be more efficient.

  • Multiple sites can make the most efficient use of bandwidth for replication, improve granular replication control , and reduce authentication latency . Granular replication control is the ability that sites provide to control replication at a lower level. For example, when all computers are in one site, replication occurs across all DCs under the control of AD. When multiple sites are created, replication between sites can be scheduled and administered by administrators. Authentication latency is the delay caused when users must authenticate across a wide area network. User Joe, for example, may be sitting at his desktop in New York, but his credentials may have to travel across the network to Los Angeles, even though a DC may be present in New York. If a New York site is created and both the DC and Joe's desktop are placed in the site, the local DC will most likely be used because the authentication process attempts to locate a DC in the same site as the logon user's computer. Thus, the process has been speeded up.

  • Clients are dynamically assigned to sites by their IP address and subnet mask during logon.

  • DC site membership is determined by the location of the associated server object in AD.

If these benefits will improve your network functionality, determine the sites that should be created and which computers will be in which sites, and then create and configure the sites. Sites can also be modified to keep up with changes in your network.

3.1. Creating, configuring, and modifying sites

To create a site, begin by opening Start → Administrative Tools → AD Sites and Services. Right-click the Sites node and then click New Site. Enter the name for the new site. Select a site link object as shown in Figure 5 and then click OK. (A site-link object defines the protocol and scheduling required for linking two sites. Use the Default Site Link Object unless you have defined a site link object specifically for this connection.) When prompted, click OK to complete the creation of the site.

Figure 5. A new site must designate a site link

To add additional sites, begin by creating new site as just explained. Ensure that the site is connected to at least one other site via a site link, as shown in Figure 7-5.

After creating the sites, you must configure them.

To configure site links, begin by opening AD Sites and Services. Expand the Inter-Site Transports node. Right-click the site link and select Properties, which results in the screen shown in Figure 6.

Enter a site link cost in the Cost field. The Cost field is used if multiple network paths (and hence multiple site links) exist. Multiple network paths are often configured for redundancy. The Cost field is assigned a number based on the speed and perhaps the actual monetary cost of the link. If the speed is slow, or the monetary cost high, a high number is assigned. Cost field numbers are relative (that is, a slow network link such as dial-up might be assigned the number 500, but a high-speed connection such as a T-1 line might be assigned the number 100). A low-cost site link will be used in preference to a high-cost link. For example, if two site links (dial-up and T-1) exist and are assigned a cost as described previously, the T-1 link will be used if it is available or if both links are available. Click the Change Schedule button to enter a site link schedule, which represents the times at which the site link is available for replication. In the Replicate every field enter a site link replication frequency, which is the frequency at which replication should occur. Finally, click OK.

Sites must be defined in AD by identifying the TCP/IP subnets at their location(s). To do so, you add the subnet information to the subnet node and associate (or identify) the site where the subnet is located. This information is used by AD in many ways. For example, when user Joe attempts to log on, the authentication process uses his TCP/IP information to determine which subnet (and, therefore, which site) he is located in. The site information is then used to locate a DC in the same site if one exists.

Figure 6. Configure a site links properties to make replication more efficient

To create a subnet and associate a subnet with a site, begin by opening AD Sites and Services and then expand the Sites → Subnets node. Right-click the Subnet node and select "New subnet." Enter the new subnet address and subnet mask. Select the site object for the subnet as shown in Figure 7, and then click OK.

If DCs are physically located in the area served by a site but were created before the AD site was created, use the AD Sites and Services console to move the DC to the new AD site. If DCs are moved to from one site to another, use the AD Sites and Services console to move the DC to the new site.

To move DCs to the site, begin by opening AD Sites and Services. Right-click on the DC to move and select Move. Select the site as shown in Figure 8 and click OK.

The site-licensing server for a site is used to help an organization comply with the license agreements for Windows Server 2003. Noncompliance can result in heavy fines. The site-licensing server collects license information using the License Logging service. Each server uses this service to replicate its information to a centralized database on the site license server. Licensing information is essential for proving compliance with your Microsoft licensing agreement. Since a site administrator can use the Licensing console to view the licensing history for the site, using this tool makes this job easier. The site licensing server is usually the first domain controlled created for the site.

Figure 7. Sites are defined by subnets

Figure 8. DCs should be added to the sites that represent their physical location

To create a site licensing server in a site, begin by selecting the site. Double-click the Licensing Site Settings object in the detail pane to open its properties. Click the Change button. Use the object picker to select the computer. Click OK.

A bridgehead server for a site is the server used for AD replication between sites. Each replication transport can have its own bridgehead server. Creating bridgehead servers establishes more control over replication. In addition, because the DC used for replication between sites is designated, you can ensure that it is adequately provisioned for this extra activity.

To create a bridgehead server, begin by opening AD Sites and Services. Expand the site container. Right-click the server that will be a bridgehead server and click Properties. Select the General tab, then select the transport for which the server will be a bridgehead server. Click Add, as shown in Figure 9 to move the transport. The server is now a bridgehead server for that transport in its site.

Figure 9. Create bridgehead servers to better manage replication

Now that you have correctly configured your sites, you are ready to correctly position the operations masters within the domain.

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