Windows Small Business Server 2003 upgrade from a WORKGROUP to a DOMAIN server. DCPROMO

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Network management software
In our small non-profit I set up and have managed an 8-node peer-to-peer network that has been very stable and troublefree for the past year. However, an influx of interns in June will require 20+ nodes (includes workstations, laptops, and 2 printers). I have studied DCPPROMO and it appears straight forward to implement this upgrade since both DNS and AD will be resident on my single server. Our phone company is our ISP and we use MS Outlook courtesy of a mail service provider (donated). However, my experience with MS tells me that nothing is straight forward. If one of you have done this recently would you share with me any real problems encountered? Two specific questions I have are 1) is 10 a practical or a systemic limit of the number of nodes on a peer-to-peer? 2)Since we are a small non-profit who rely on volunteers for much of our support functions (who come and go), keeping the network very, very simple is the primary concern. What, then, is the least labor intensive method of maintaining a secure network of 1 server and 20 client nodes? Cecil R. Williams
ASKED: May 30, 2005  8:44 PM
UPDATED: May 31, 2005  12:50 PM

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SBS 2003 is a very good OS. Use the wizards and I recommend that you DO NOT use dcpromo. SBS is a special OS and the wizards will install all the security and other required setting to run ‘normally not recommended’ services and process on a domain controller.

You need to consider client license requirements when you go to a domain enviroment. You receive 5 CAL with SBS 2003, so you would need to purchase 15 additional. If you are a 501 3c non-profit, then you should look at www.techsoup.org for assistance with software purchases.

A work group vs a domain is the question you have to resolve. How do you currenty control logons? If each individual has a user name and password, then I would not use a work group. Standardization and security enhancements of a domain are well worth the effort, especially in SBS 2003 since it was created for business with no formal IT personnel.

Let us know more reguarding you infastructur, they workstations OS and if the printers are networked (contain their own NIC) or will be local to a computer and then shared.

Good luck
DW

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  • Astronomer
    If you don't mind the hassle of managing each system individually you can stay with a workgroup. Back in the days of NT 3.51 we had over 100 workstations in my supported organization with minimal problems. You need to weigh the cost and benefits of domains before deciding on changing. How do these systems interact? How fast is your candidate for domain controller? My experience is that promoting a system to a domain controller slows it down significantly. What kind of email are you using? The current exchange requires AD and complicates it significantly. A well designed domain does simplify management of the windows systems but I have seen too many domains that weren't designed well and caused lots of problems. If you research this well and put enough effort into learning AD this will simplify support. The question I would ask is: Do the benefits outweigh the costs? Think this over carefully before you decide. My experience is that 20 to 50 systems is the grey area of break-even for domains. rt
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