Active Directory Best Practices Analyzer (ADBPA)

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A couple years back someone made a recommendation on Microsoft Exchange Forums that equivalent to Exchange BPA, it would be nice for AD Admins to have an AD Best Practices Analyzer, this was passed on to the AD Team. Though I am not if this particular thread was the driver behind it, but starting in Windows Server 2008 R2, AD Admin will have the BPA.

“Active Directory Domain Services (AD DS) Best Practices Analyzer (BPA) is a server management tool that can help you implement best practices in the configuration of your Active Directory environment. AD DS BPA scans the AD DS server role as it is installed on your Windows Server 2008 R2 domain controllers, and it reports best practice violations. You can filter or exclude results from AD DS BPA reports that you do not need to see. You can also perform AD DS BPA tasks by using either the Server Manager graphical user interface (GUI) or cmdlets in the Windows PowerShell command-line interface.”

ADBPA is a great idea, it gives you a quick glance into the new DC you have just stood up. It points you toward setting the NTP settings correctly if the DC is also PDC. It lets you know if your OUs are not set to be protected from accidental deletion. It also reminds you that certain directory partitions (NC) have not been backed up since a certain of period time. You can access the ADBPA from the Server Manager -> ADDS.

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You may notice that if you are running the Windows Server 2008 Beta version, there seems to be a bug with ADBPA rule. One of the non-compliant complain is about the DC’s inability to reach a DNS server to retrieve DC specific records even when the DC itself is also the DNS and the pertaining records are existing. This behavior has been corrected in the RC version.

The compliant section also shows where your DC meets the expected configuration, such as when it advertises itself as a DC in its local site. One downside I see with ADBPA is that it cannot be self-launched into its separate MMC. Or unlike the Exchange BPA, it is only accessible in a small window from within the Server Manager. So there if is large number of non-compliant/compliant messages, the browsing ability is not that great.

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How does ADBPA gather this data ?

“When you run the AD DS BPA scan on a domain controller, the BPA engine invokes the AD DS BPA Windows PowerShell script that collects configuration data from the AD DS environment that this domain controller belongs to. The AD DS BPA Windows PowerShell script then saves the collected AD DS configuration data to an XML document. The BPA run-time engine validates this XML document against the XML schema.”

For more information on ADBPA. See this.

What’s the Schema version of Windows Server 2008 R2 ?

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It is version 47 in RC and it may very well change when R2 gets RTM. You can check the objectVersion attribute of your current forest on the Schema Naming Context (NC) via ADSIedit.msc.

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Here are some older Schema versions.

13=Win2k
30=2003
31=2003R2
44=2008

Here is more detail of schema changes in Windows Server 2008 R2 RC.

http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dd378828(WS.10).aspx

Active Directory Scalability limits

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Have no more than 1200 DCs in your domain..say new scalability limits.

I wonder if anyone realistically has reached that limit without a need to break down the domain into multiple domains/forest, this limitation lies in FRS’s ability to keep things sane with the SYSVOL replication. The new Active Directory Maximum Limits – Scalability recently published has very interesting pieces of information. I am highlighting below some key bullet points.

  • Each domain controller in an Active Directory forest can create a little bit less than 2.15 billion objects during its lifetime.
  • There is a limit of approximately 1 billion security identifiers (SIDs) over the life of a domain.
  • Security principals (that is, user, group, and computer accounts) can be members of a maximum of approximately 1,015 groups.
  • Fully qualified domain names (FQDNs) in Active Directory cannot exceed 64 characters in total length, including hyphens and periods (.).
  • The maximum length for the name of an organizational unit (OU) is 64 characters.
  • There is a limit of 999 GPOs that you can apply to a user account or computer account.
  • The recommended maximum number of members in a group is 5,000. Production environments have been reported to exceed 4 million members, and Microsoft scalability testing reached 500 million members.(Thanks to LVR).
  • For Windows Server 2003, the recommended maximum number of domains when the forest functional level is set to Windows Server 2003 (also known as forest functional level 2) is 1,200.

Even though this technet-published-content puts Windows Server 2008 in context as identified in the applies to section, unfortunately details do not dive into direct scalability improvements for native Windows Server 2008 and R2 Forests. All in all even with a Windows Server 2003 forest, the limitation mentioned here are rarely to be hit in a production environment.