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Setting up a practice lab to study AD, Exchange, etc. for beginners.

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Hi Folks,

This article is intended to throw some light or basically give an idea towards taking the first step in the world of Systems Administration. This would in the real context of the word "Systems Administration" which would mean right from OS to the functional components like Active Directory, Exchange, ISA, Backups, Clusters, etc. etc. Think of any real world scenario which you might have ever thought of re-building on a very small scale at your place. So the target audience for this article would be all those beginners who would like to explore the maze.

To start with, basically considering a typical business scenario, any organization would be having a directory structure. Sticking strictly with Windows i would say Active Directory and for email communication, Exchange (you can add to the list of functional components to any depth as far as your imagination and curiosity can take you). So to setup such a typical infrastructure below is the list of ingredients that you would want to keep handy.

Basic Ingredients:
* A computer with sufficient resources (in terms of fast processor, abundant physical memory and loads of disk space)
* A virtualization software like MS Virtual PC or VMware Workstation (Google them and you would find them in a jiffy)

Now lets move forward to setup our lab. Here what i would be considering is 2 different organizations with their individual forests and mailing systems. So after you install the virtualization softwares next step would be to build the virtual machines. I would not be going through the part of building the virtual machines and assuming that you would definitely know it lets start building the infrastructure.

For Organization 1:

Company Name: AP
Forest Name: ap.com
Domain Name: ap.com
Machine 1:
Name: apdc01
OS: Windows 2k3
Roles: Domain Controller, DNS Server, DHCP Server
IP Address: 192.168.1.1/24
Gateway: 192.168.1.254/24

Machine 2:
Name: apex01
OS: Windows 2k3
Roles: Exchange Server
IP Address: 192.168.1.2/24
Gateway: 192.168.1.254/24

Machine 3:
Name: apcl01
OS: Windows XP
Roles: Client Machine
IP Address: 192.168.1.3/24 (or DHCP Enabled)
Gateway: 192.168.1.254/24


For Organization 2:

Company Name: EU
Forest Name: eu.com
Domain Name: eu.com
Machine 1:
Name: eudc01
OS: Windows 2k3
Roles: Domain Controller, DNS Server, DHCP Server
IP Address: 10.10.10.1/24
Gateway: 10.10.10.254/24

Machine 2:
Name: euex01
OS: Windows 2k3
Roles: Exchange Server
IP Address: 10.10.10.2/24
Gateway: 10.10.10.254/24

Machine 3:
Name: eucl01
OS: Windows XP
Roles: Client Machine
IP Address: 10.10.10.3/24 (or DHCP Enabled)
Gateway: 10.10.10.254/24

Next step would be to create a ROUTER which would help in the packet transfer between these two separate organizations having different network ids. So the router configuration would be.

Machine 1: {Yes a windows box that would be router since windows 2k3 has this ability to act as a software router (^_^) }
Name: ROUTER (This would be part of a WORKGROUP)
Roles: DNS
IP Addresses: Now this machine you would be adding 2 NICs.
NIC 1: 192.168.1.254/24
NIC 2: 10.10.10.254/24

Now we would have to enable LAN Routing between these two NICs so that it acts as a Router. To do so you would have to go to:
Administrative Tools>Routing and Remote Access console.

* In that console, right click the server name and say "Enable and Configure Routing and Remote Access"

* In the following wizard, say next and select the "Custom Configuration" option and say next.

* Finally select the LAN Routing option and say finish.

Once the router is setup, final task remains that would help in mailflow between the 2 orgs. For that the ROUTER would have 2 forward lookup zones in it; one as ap.com and other as eu.com. Both these zones would have their respective Exchange servers host (A) and Mail Exchanger (MX) records.

The above setup gives you the very basic idea of how to go about setting a small lab. Now using this setup you could practice about AD, AD replication, Exchange, mailflows, DNS, DHCP, Group Policies, testing on client machines, etc. To explore further you might think of setting up a few more machines and try creating a child domain structure or else build a windows cluster, etc.

To accompany this article you could also follow the link which talks about the same kinda setup.

http://www.experts-exchange.com/Apple/Software/VirtualPC/Q_23916904.html

With this i would end this short (but a lengthy) article. And hopefully i have made it as simple as a piece of cake to understand. Still if anything is not clear all the queries are most welcome.

Happy Learning (^_^)
6
Author:Rudram
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