Remote administration of domain controllers

James Michael Stewart, Contributor

As the size of your network grows, the number of domain controllers and essential network service member servers increases dramatically. As these servers become situated in different locations across multiple campuses or buildings, forcing your administrative staff to be physically present at each server or domain controller may be too much to ask. Remote administration offers an easier approach to managing and controlling any number of disparate systems without significantly compromising security.

Windows 2000 and Windows XP clients, or even Windows 2000 Server and Windows Server 2003 systems, can be used to connect to remote Windows 2000 Server and Windows Server 2003 servers and domain controllers using a wide range of remote administration tools. The Windows Server 2003 Administrator Tools Pack (adminpak.msi) includes numerous tools for effectively managing Active Directory from a remote location. In fact, these tools support LDAP signing and transaction encryption in order to provide the highest level of protection for the privileged activities they support.

In addition to the capabilities of these remote admin tools, complete system interaction can be obtained through the use of Remote Desktop for Administration. This service is on Windows Server 2003 systems by default, but it is disabled by default. Once the service is enabled through the Services utility, Windows XP clients and Windows Server 2003 systems using Remote Desktop Connection can establish

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a secure remote link with servers and domain controllers alike. Through this connection, the remote client system becomes the keyboard, mouse, and monitor for the distant server. All of the activities that you could perform directly at a server's console, such as running backup or installing software, can be performed through the Remote Desktop link.

I'm sure you can see that for those environments where remote administration is not outright forbidden, the built in remote admin features of Windows Server 2003 can be employed to greatly reduce administrative overhead and burden in overseeing an ever expanding base of domain controllers and member servers.

James Michael Stewart is a partner and researcher for ITinfopros, a technology-focused writing and training organization.

This was first published in June 2004

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