Hi there!

As you might know, Windows 8 will bring us tons of new features and improvements, some of which have been long awaited. Over the upcoming weeks, I’ll try to produce some blog posts about these changes and improvements with regards to Active Directory.

Note: the information below is coming from an early version of Windows 8 (developer preview) and there might be small (or bigger) changes in the final version of the product.

Goodbye ‘dcpromo’…

In this first article, I wanted to talk about the configuration of Active Directory. Ever since AD was introduced, IT Pro’s were drilled to use the “dcpromo” command line tool to create a new DC (whether this was to add or remove a DC).

Well, the “era” of this command seems to come to an end with Windows 8 (at least according to what I’ve noticed so far) :

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As we will see later, and alternative to the tool is now provided by PowerShell.

Configuring ADDS

Entirely according to what I’ve expected, ADDS can be configured from within the redesigned server manager. As soon as you’ve added the ADDS-role, a new option becomes available:

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ADDS Configuration Wizard

Clicking “Promote this server to a domain controller”, will launch the Active Directory Domain Services Configuration Wizard (formerly known as “dcpromo”).

In this scenario, I’ll be adding a domain controller to an existing domain.

On the first page of the wizard, choose your deployment type and enter the necessary details (no surprises here):

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Select the options for your (new) Domain Controller and choose a Recovery Mode password (don’t loose it!):

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The setup will now ask to create a DNS delegation. Again: choose the appropriate settings and click Next:

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Choose where to store AD-related files:

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The next page contains a nice ‘surprise’: as is the case with Exchange 2010, the wizard allows you to copy-paste the PowerShell-code it is using to execute the task with the selected options. This allows you to easily create your own script(s) from it:

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As you can see, the Install-ADDSDomainController cmdlet is used. This cmdlet is part of the ADDS Deployment Module for PowerShell which has been introduced in Windows Server 8. More information about these cmdlets can be found in one of my previous articles.

Now that we’ve completed the wizard, it will start configuring ADDS. But before doing so, the wizard will run a quick check to see if all prerequisites have been met:

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You have the option to automatically reboot the server after completion (as was the case with the ‘old’ dcpromo.exe)

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A final word

In my opinion, these changes – although they might seem small at first – can (and probably will) have an impact on how we deploy domain controllers. I remember that automating the installation (promotion) of a DC could be a real pain in the butt. However, thanks to the new deployment cmdlets and a easy-to-use wizard which is more complete than before, deploying a new or additional DC’s will become a piece of cake.

Does this mean that you should be deploying DC’s just because you can? Of course not. Mind that the ease of deployment might open up some doors to advanced automated deployment in a private cloud, yet deploying a Domain Controller should always be well overthought and –considered.

Until later!

Michael

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