The Planning and Design Series Approach

Published: February 25, 2008


This guide is one in a series of planning and design guides that clarify and streamline the planning and design process for Microsoft® infrastructure technologies.

Each guide in the series addresses a unique infrastructure technology or scenario. These guides include the following topics:

  • Defining the technical decision flow (flow chart) through the planning process.
  • Describing the decisions to be made and the commonly available options to consider in making the decisions.
  • Relating the decisions and options to the business in terms of cost, complexity, and other characteristics.
  • Framing the decision in terms of additional questions to the business to ensure a comprehensive understanding of the appropriate business landscape.

The guides in this series are intended to complement and augment the product documentation.

Document Approach

This guide is designed to provide a consistent structure for addressing the decisions/activities that are most critical to the successful implementation of the Windows Server® 2008 operating system Active Directory® directory service infrastructure.

Each decision/activity is subdivided into four elements:

  • Background on the decision or activity, including context setting and general considerations.
  • Typical options or tasks to perform for the activity.
  • Reference section evaluating such items as cost, complexity, and manageability to the options/tasks.
  • Questions for the business that may have a significant impact on the decisions to be made.

The following table lists the full range of characteristics discussed in the evaluation sections. Only those characteristics relevant to a particular option or task are included in each section.

Table 1. Architectural Characteristics




The complexity of this option relative to other options.


The initial setup and sustained cost of this option.

Fault Tolerance

How the decision supports the resiliency of the infrastructure. This will ultimately affect the availability of the system.


How the option will affect the performance of the infrastructure.


The impact the option will have on the scalability of the infrastructure.


This value reflects whether the option will have a positive or negative impact on overall infrastructure security.

Each of the design options is compared against the above characteristics and is subjectively rated in order to provide a relative weighting of the option against the characteristic. The options are not explicitly rated against each other as there are too many unknowns about the business drivers to accurately compare them.

The ratings are relative and take two forms:

  • Cost and Complexity are rated on a scale of High, Medium, or Low.
  • The remaining characteristics are rated on the scale listed in the following table.

Table 2. Impact on Characteristic



Positive effect on the characteristic.

No effect on the characteristic, or there is no basis for comparison.

Negative effect on the characteristic.

The characteristics are presented either as two-column or three-column tables. The two-column table is used when the characteristic is applicable to all options or when there are no options available—for example, when performing a task.

The three-column table is used to present an option, the description, and the effect—in that order—for the characteristic.

Who Should Use This Document

This document is written for use by IT specialists, generalists, consultants, value-added resellers (VARs), or anyone who needs to design an Active Directory implementation for Windows Server 2008.

This document can be used:

  • Before the design process begins, to understand the critical design decisions that need to be made.
  • During the design process, to ensure that a comprehensive perspective is applied to the design.
  • After the design process has been completed, to validate that all critical design areas have been addressed.

This accelerator is part of a larger series of tools and guidance from Solution Accelerators.


Get the IPD Active Directory Domain Services

Solution Accelerators Notifications

Sign up to learn about updates and new releases


Send us your comments or suggestions