Windows Server 2003 new setup

Discussion in 'Windows Server Systems' started by Skunk141, Jun 2, 2008.

  1. Skunk141

    Skunk141 OSNN Addict

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    Hi chaps

    I am a very advanced and experienced user of all Windows OS's including trouble shooting and fixing Windows since 3.1 and before that DOS.

    I build PC's for customers and trouble shoot hardware as well, there is pretty much nothing I can't fix when it comes to PC's basically :)

    I currently do this for a living and have been self employed for the last 3-4 years mainly with residential and small business's with 5-10 employees.

    Now during my 15 years experience I have never really used or come into contact with Windows Server, I have always meant to get more experience with it but never really had the time.

    I have now installed it on a spare machine I have here and had a little play and I feel I could pick it up very quickly but am aware that it's a big OS and there is lots to learn!

    I have been asked to support a fairly big network of 40ish PC's running Windows XP and there is two Servers running Windows Server 2003 (both DC's as far as I can tell) The current guy has left the company in the lurch and is not responding to calls and has basically vanished.

    I visited today to do a little audit and everything looks in order and there is no major problems as far as the customer knows either although there are some small problems occurring, the main server has 35'ish clients connecting and the current roles in Mange my Server are:

    File Server
    Print Server
    Application Server
    Domain Controller
    DNS Server
    DHCP Server
    WINS Server

    The customer is a relation to me and would really like me to take it over as they have had bad experiences in the past, my question is do you think I can pick up what I need to as I go along or by buying a Windows Server 2003 bible (if there is such a thing) or from help on here and other forums?

    I there some video tutorials around or a really good intensive course paid or free?

    If I did decide to take the maintenance on do you think it would be best to start a fresh, wipe the server and set it up myself so I know what is going on and gain experience or leave it alone as it's working but with some one else's possible mess?

    I know there are lots of questions here but any input would be greatly appreciated :)
     
  2. kcnychief

    kcnychief █▄█ ▀█▄ █ Political User Folding Team

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    What version of Server? I would recommend against starting from scratch as restoring may cause problems if you aren't familiar. I would work with what's in place, solve problems as they arise, and maybe play with it in a Virtual Machine to familiarze yourself with it. There are good books, I recommend the "Inside Out" ones myself. Also if you are new to server, you need to brush up on Active Directory and Exchange (if in use).
     
  3. Skunk141

    Skunk141 OSNN Addict

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    It's Standard server edition and yes it is running an exchange server! I thought that I would be happier installing it from scratch so I know it from the ground up but I don't want to shoot my self in the foot, obviously I would take the existing hard disks out in case I ran into problems. No usage at the weekend and for roughly 3 weeks in the summer, so then would be a perfect time...
     
  4. madmatt

    madmatt Bow Down to the King Political User

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    If your experience is limited then I would recommend against rebuilding the servers. I would setup a virtual environment using Microsoft Virtual PC and practice before attempting to do any rebuilding.

    Also worth noting: Exchange migrations aren't fun and can be a pain in the butt. Be really careful with Exchange, especially if the business relies on it.
     
  5. fitz

    fitz Just Floating Along Staff Member Political User Folding Team

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    skunk, no offense to you, but I would probably recommend they hire someone a bit more qualified.

    You seem to have more experience on the desktop side and have admitted that you have essentially zero experience in the network/domain administration side. Throw in an Exchange server as well and which I'm assuming you have little to no experience in that side as well.. and you really have a recipie for some big disaster as you "learn on the job".

    Learning on the job on a production network with noone senior to guide you and help you along they way is NOT the way to go if you want a happy customer..

    The fact that the first thing you want to do is rebuild their entire network is a case in point - that's almost never a good idea..

    If there is a GOOD reason for it, it can be done - but if the only reason you want to do it is so you "know if from the ground up", that's telling me you are incapable of understanding the network as it is now. If you came to me and said, your network is messed up beyond repair for reason x, reason y, reason z.. and said for those reasons you need to rebuild it, that's a different story.

    My advice would be for the company to hire a good admin with good experience.. their past bad experiences, frankly, often reflect on their hiring ability.. a good network admin will cost them money.. if they don't pay well, they really won't get good IT folk but will only get mostly inexperienced people who only make things worse in the end.

    Have them hire someone qualified.. if you want to learn, maybe have them hire you on as a junior and learn from the senior..
     
  6. ming

    ming OSNN Advanced

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    I agree with fitz. You need to fully understand Windows Server before you take on the lead role of becoming an administrator, especially if there isn't anyone else to guide you.
     
  7. Skunk141

    Skunk141 OSNN Addict

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    The rebuild was only a suggestion if it would be easier and get me some knowledge...

    I take your other points on board, although can I add that the emails are not business critical and there is only 2 email address's / users with emails, the other users are not power users and only run basic programs like office and adobe reader, they don't have email. Does this make the job easier / less complicated?

    Cheers
     
  8. fitz

    fitz Just Floating Along Staff Member Political User Folding Team

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    As I stated, it's not the desktop side that I would be worried about. It's everything on the server side..

    Do they plan on growing? Do you know how to grown the network to manage that growth? Do they plan on giving other users email addresses? Do you host your own mail? Do you understand how DNS and the MX records work? Do they have internet access? Do you understand (I mean REALLY understand how firewalls work)? Are you comfortable setting up switching and/or routing gear?

    Have you ever dealt with hardware,software lifecycles? Have you ever worked with Microsoft to setup an Open and/or Select licensing agreement? Have you ever researched and determined which licensing plans make the most sense?

    Do you have a DR plan? Have you ever run a full DR recovery of a domain controller? Have you ever tested and run a full recovery of Exchange onto another server? Have you ever used and maintained enterprise backup software? Do you know how to setup efficient tape rotations?

    Do you understand their business and how to align IT priorities with business priorities?

    Whether it's a 10 man shop or a 5000 man shop, there are all things to consider. Generally most owners don't know enough of IT to consider these things.. a good IT person will bring these things up to the owner.

    edit: sorry to be so blunt.. busy and frazzeled at the moment with my work with an IT audit coming this week and frantically documenting some things I should have documented last year :) :p
     
  9. roirraW "edor" ehT

    roirraW "edor" ehT Builder/Installer

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    Ask yourself this. If their server ends up not working at all, how big a deal would it be for them? And how long could they go with it that way?
     
  10. Skunk141

    Skunk141 OSNN Addict

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    Ok it's probably worth giving a bit more background to the setup, the 35-40 pc's that connect to this main server are for the users to learn on as it's a learning centre so they actually don't need to save if any that much work and will never have email address's they all logon with the same username and no password, ie group1, group 2 etc etc

    There are no plans to grow and would be impossible to do so in the current premesis so that's not an issue.

    They have Internet access but rarely if ever use it, the routing switching gear is already in and working and obviously no plans to expand so can't see that being a problem

    Licensing plans I havn't dealt with nor DR recovery of a DC...

    I hope this helps a bit with how simple the network is.

    The other server serves 5-6 people (the teachers) 2 of which have email address's connecting to exchange on that server.

    As far as the server going down it would cause them a problem if it was off for more than a few days...
     
  11. madmatt

    madmatt Bow Down to the King Political User

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  12. Skunk141

    Skunk141 OSNN Addict

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  13. madmatt

    madmatt Bow Down to the King Political User

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    Multitask my man! Multitask!
     
  14. Nismo83

    Nismo83 OSNN AZN Addict

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    It would be much better to performed a full server backup as of current just in case $hit happens. Moreover, the person who asked you to take charge might not know $hit about computer, and it will be too late to do explanation if anything do happens.

    And i don't encourage you to do a scratch from ground as it would be digging your own grave with the experience you had. Trial and Error would be much better and besides that, just get a Virtual PC and familiarize with it and some Q 'n' A session with some users (to get to know what basically they are using, and at the same time, u will get urself involved together to know it better)