When you’re planning the design of a Windows 2000 network, you need to consider a ton of configuration options—especially when you deploy Active Directory. Keeping these options straight can be challenging. For instance, there are approximately 500 options for creating a single Group Policy Object. Then, of course, you have to make decisions about such things as DHCP scope options, WINS tombstoning, and DNS zones.
While planning a new Windows 2000 network, I recently tackled this problem by creating a template in Microsoft Excel that allowed me to see at a glance all of the options for DHCP, WINS, DNS, and Group Policy Objects and to record in advance how I intended to configure each of those options. You can download a copy of my Excel workbook here. Let's run through a few tips for using it.
Working with the template
The workbook consists of a separate worksheet for each of the four main configuration topics: Group Policy, DNS, WINS, and DHCP. Each sheet lists the options for that topic.
In the Group Policy sheet, you will find each option listed by category in the first column. In the second column, beginning with the Administrative Templates section, you will find the Microsoft-provided explanation for that option. The third column documents which options are to be configured and how.
The DNS sheet can be used for planning forward and reverse lookup zones. If you are going to create more than one, simply add additional rows. In addition, you can specify the type of zone (Active Directory-integrated, primary, etc.), zone and server security, zone delegation, forwarders, root hints, zone transfer, and so forth.
With the WINS sheet, you can plan out the WINS replication scheme, any static mappings that will be required, tombstoning, and other items.
The DHCP sheet will enable you to plan DHCP scopes and their associated information. You can simply insert additional rows if you are going to create more than one scope or any superscopes or multicasting scopes. The sheet includes space for specifying DHCP exclusions and reservations, as well as which scope options you plan to configure, such as default gateway, DNS and WINS servers, and any other options you may require for your environment.
Although this template includes a sheet for only one Group Policy Object, you can easily copy it into additional worksheets if you plan to use multiple GPOs. You should include the name of each GPO and to which domains, sites, or organizational units that GPO is linked. Also, if you plan to import a security template (a special .inf file) into Security Settings, you should state which one it is and where it is located. You can use the templates provided by Microsoft or another organization, such as the National Security Agency, or create your own by configuring an existing template and then saving it with a different name.
Plan and document in one step
This workbook will help guide you through the planning process for these four elements of a Windows 2000 and Active Directory installation or migration. Once everything is filled in, it will be an easy matter to carry out the actual configuration at the server. Not only that, but when the project is completed, you will have already documented what you have done. You or another member of your team will always be able to refer to this workbook when troubleshooting and/or reconfiguring.