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Rebuilding SWMI… Not the company, just the infrastructure

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I have been talking about rebuilding the domain for my company for several months, and finally sat down to do it this week-end.  Because I was essentially destroying the old domain there were a few steps I needed to perform before going ahead.

I performed a Backup of all of my data.  Nobody in their right mind would destroy an environment before they back up their data… especially if they are planning to actually delete the machines and start from scratch.

I performed a complete test-Restore of all of my data.  Now that my Mail Server is completely cloud-based this was easier than it might have been – If I had Exchange, SQL, and SharePoint it would have been more complicated, but also more crucial.  I always stress the importance of doing test-restores because the worst time to find out that your backup did not work is when you need to recover it.  Make sure that it works before you are faced with real data loss.

Planning was actually relatively simple for me, because the main environment was going to look very similar to the lab environment I had recently built for my Private Cloud camp.  I still had the planning documents for that, and I was able to follow them pretty closely for the first few machines. There was a time when I would have done the planning in my head, but now I make sure that I have all of my plans on paper before I go forward.  As the old adage goes, measure twice, cut once.  By having your thoughts on paper it is easier to stay on track… and if you do have to veer then you should document why you did.

Cleaning Up may not seem all that important, but destroying a cluster before destroying the domain is infinitely simpler than doing so afterwards.  It is doable of course, but there are PowerShell commands such as Remove-ClusterResource –force that one will get intimately familiar with if you do not think ahead.

Make sure you have all of the installation Media at hand… either on physical DVD or in an ISO repository.  This should not only include the obvious ones such as operating systems and applications, but also make sure you have the latest hardware drivers.  By looking at my Plan I know that I will need the following media:

Additionally I would need several bits that I would simply download as one-offs… the Report Viewer, Silverlight, and things like that.  However since my networking topology is already in place, I would be able to do that from within the virtual machines.

Now that I have everything ready to go, I am ready to move forward.  Building an environment from scratch (green-field) would be simpler, but there are some aspects that prevented that.  In your production environment (should you ever decide to start from near-scratch) you will have to run through the same sort of project plan.  Make sure you think it out – do not simply sit down one morning and expect to implement in the afternoon; rather make sure you observe your environment for a few cycles and build your plan over time so that you don’t run into any surprises.

In my next piece I will go through the actual build architecture of how I decided to build my server infrastructure; I will also introduce some actual build videos of the System Center components.  If there is something in particular that you would like to see please let me know by commenting! -M

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