27 April 2010

Series – Building your business on Microsoft technologies (Part 0 – Roadmap)

Many people launch new businesses or expand small businesses to the point where IT starts to play a role.  It is at that precipice where the question about which software to use and build on becomes evident.  As happens in most companies, a software package that most closely does what is more urgently needed, is installed by someone and it starts to gain user traction.  This repeats over and over again until at some point, someone has to figure out how to untangle the spaghetti mess that resulted.
If only someone had planned the expansion and use of software beforehand, it would have saved tons of time for whoever ends up with that project.  And that… is where this series comes into play…
I’ve built my career over the last 10 years or so, on Microsoft technologies.  There’s always someone out there who’s done what you need, IF you understand what you need.  That’s what Enterprise Architects to best.  Understanding the business need and marrying that up with technology decisions that will help drive the business forward.  I intend this series to provide a road map for anyone who needs to build a business on technology that’ll allow less rework down the road.  I will cover all the topics as one may encounter them from the perspective of small (or even one man/woman) IT departments where budgets are tight (especially in the current economy) and getting high priced consultants isn’t always an option.  The most expensive thing that’s done in IT, is rework.  Doing the same thing over and over again because it wasn’t done properly the first time.
My vision for this series is to be a guide that most IT personnel could follow to deploy technologies within their company that’ll be properly positioned to support company growth in the future, requiring little to no rework at any point in time.  So without any further delay… here is my Roadmap for this series… Please note that I’ll be updating the Roadmap as time goes on and I write the corresponding articles and link to them.  It may be a good idea to Bookmark/Favorite this post for future reference.
  1. Installation – Windows Server 2008 R2.  Since Windows Server 2008 R2 is the latest and greatest server operating system from Microsoft, we’ll use it as the basis for all our servers.
  2. Configuration – Creating the Primary Domain Controller – Enabling the Active Directory Domain Services Role on Windows Server 2008 R2.  Once we have our first server with an operating system installed, it’s time to create our company domain.  We’ll be using Active Directory authentication for our environment.
  3. Business Continuity – Enabling and Testing the Windows Server Backup Feature on Windows Server 2008 R2.  No progress can or should be made until we’re sure we can recover from absolute disaster.  That means our server is completely dead and we have to restore onto new metal.  Backup and Restore functionality must be tested before we do anything else.
  4. Configuration – Enabling the Hyper-V Role on Windows Server 2008 R2.  Getting ready for virtualization is a key action here.  In a small business, there is seldom money for multiple servers so we have to stretch our resources to the max by employing virtualization.  Since running absolutely everything on one single server is not only NOT recommended as a Best Practice but also detrimental to scaling with business growth, virtualization is a perfect solution.  We will be using Microsoft’s Hyper-V technology to host all our servers on the same physical box.
  5. Installation – SQL Server 2008 R2 on Hyper-V.  Since absolutely everything we’ll do requires a SQL Server database, and since SQL Server 2008 R2 is Microsoft’s latest and greatest database server product, we’ll build on it.  Initially we’re not going to cluster or scale the SQL Server, but that will be the first point of scaling once volume and traffic increase.
  6. Business Continuity – Configuring and Testing Disaster Recovery for Hyper-V Servers.  Since our SQL Server was the first Hyper-V server we built, we have to test the Backup and Restore of our Hyper-V server before proceeding.
  7. Installation – Exchange Server 2010 on Hyper-V.  Now that we have a domain and a database server, we need email.  We’ll be building on Microsoft’s latest email server for that.
  8. Business Continuity – Testing Disaster Recovery for the Exchange Server 2010 server on Hyper-V.
  9. Installation – SharePoint Server 2010 on Hyper-V.  After establishing email for the company, we need to work on the web site and collaboration between employees.  We’ll use the latest version of SharePoint for that.
  10. Business Continuity – Testing Disaster Recovery for the SharePoint Server 2010 server on Hyper-V.
  11. Etc.
And so the list will grow and continue over time.  I am going to endeavor to post a new chapter in the series every week to two weeks so stay tuned.


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