Architecting and Administering Microsoft Backofficeby Christine Genet Kemp, Techknowquest Inc. Staff, Richard Kemp, Marcus Goncalves
In this book, three top consultants walk you step-by-step through planning, implementing, and optimizing Microsoft BackOffice in the enterprise. Start with a close look at the challenges of planning enterprise architectures - including aligning technology with business goals and avoiding client/server development pitfalls. You'll find comprehensive coverage of… See more details below
In this book, three top consultants walk you step-by-step through planning, implementing, and optimizing Microsoft BackOffice in the enterprise. Start with a close look at the challenges of planning enterprise architectures - including aligning technology with business goals and avoiding client/server development pitfalls. You'll find comprehensive coverage of Microsoft BackOffice system and network management and testing. You'll preview the future of Windows NT - including highly-robust, cost-effective Windows NT-based virtual private networks. Best of all, you'll gain invaluable insight into the critical staffing, skills assessment, change management, teamwork, and political skills Microsoft BackOffice demands. The accompanying CD-ROM includes comprehensive tools for Microsoft BackOffice technical architecture planning many of them exclusive to this book.
Read an Excerpt
When computers were first used within organizations, business applications and management were typically planned, controlled, and managed centrally. All data processing occurred within the boundaries of a single computer. As computing technology became affordable to individual business units, new hardware and software was designed and implemented to support networked, distributed architectures. Clustered midrange computers, such as VAXes and UNIX machines, provided departmental support. Businesses at this time tended to be organized around the concept of stovepipes, with most software vendors writing applications to support the functional business units.
The trend toward more distributed computing environments continued with the advent of personal computers. This distribution of processing, applications, and information has introduced a number of complex issues to the computing environment. Such issues include the elimination of centralized planning, an abundance of redundant data, and the inability of a centralized information systems group to keep the network architecture in line with business unit requirements. The impact of this on most network administrators is that they live in a highly reactive environment with seemingly little ability to control the chaos around them.
This book explains how the latest Microsoft BackOffice product suite, when combined with human intelligence, can turn this situation around and put a network operations group back in control of their network, and off of their electronic leashes. A key feature of this book is its explanation of the universal issues of organization, management, and control byusing the Microsoft BackOffice products as examples. These issues include:
o Assessment: Each BackOffice product requires that an up-front technology and information assessment of an organization's existing infrastructure is done prior to any technical planning, design, or implementation. This assessment includes considerations for what people in the organization do, what information they need access to, and how often they need access. The last part of any assessment is presentation of findings and associated analysis. We hope to give network administrators the background to resist jumping into a solution too early.
o Planning: There is never a single way to implement a technical solution. There are a series of solutions, each with their own associated cost, technical implications, and impact on people involved. The planning stage is the collaborative process by which a BackOffice technical architecture planning team evaluates and decides on the best approach to a solution. They then take this plan to the next level-technical infrastructure design.
o Implementation: As with planning, there are multiple ways to implement a technical solution. The implementation stage involves planning the best way to roll-out a new technical upgrade. There are trade-offs between the "quick and dirty" ways and the optimal way. The solution depends on many nontechnical factors such as overall budget, timeframe, and even skillsets.
The technical foundation that we use to clarify these concepts throughout this book is the Microsoft BackOffice product family. We consider its integration and interaction with other environments such as Novell, Unix, or mainframes; however, the emphasis is on using the BackOffice family as the underlying "plumbing" for an organization's information pipeline. With the Microsoft BackOffice suite, Microsoft has built an integrated framework for distributed heterogeneous computing that provides overall system and network management capabilities. Through this book, we intend to teach you how to create effective designs that highly leverage the BackOffice architecture. This knowledge is be useful first in analyzing, planning, and implementing your network and system architecture; it is useful second in preparing for the planning sections of all of the Microsoft BackOffice Certification exams.
We seek to help organizations not be led by the most recent management fad or seduced by the latest technical buzzword and start turning inward to good, solid design practices.
Who Should Use This Book
This book is designed for CIOs, MIS Directors, network administrators, system managers, Webmasters, and systems analysts involved with planning of Information Systems and Technologies (IS&T) at the corporate level, for both private and public sectors. This book is for those professionals planning on expanding their information systems, based on the Microsoft BackOffice product family, beyond the intranet/LAN level. It provides general information for savvy network professionals who are not yet familiar with BackOffice's networking and systems integration capabilities. More important, this book is for people who are ready to move beyond technical reactivity and learn to leverage the power of the Microsoft BackOffice product suite; to help their organizations move their operations into the next century with a solid, technical, information pipeline supporting them.
How This Book Is Organized
This book is divided into five parts: Part I describes the technical architecture planning process from a high level. Part II describes technical architecture planning from the perspective of Microsoft BackOffice. Part III focuses on how to integrate the various BackOffice products as well as on system and network management. Part IV focuses on human factors affecting implementations, such as staffing, policies, and so forth. Finally, Part V focuses on the future implementations affecting BackOffice technical architecture and planning such as NT 5.0.
Part One: Technical Architecture Planning
When deciding how to use the BackOffice products, it is necessary to consider the impact of each product on the overall technical architecture within the organization. Part I provides an overview of generic technical architecture planning. Although most often performed by management consulting firms, the principles and practices involved in technical architecture planning are critical to creating an infrastructure that supports the business objectives, and so should be learned by network engineers, MIS directors, and CIOs. This may be unfamiliar to most information systems professionals today-after all, most IS professionals spend their time reacting to market shifts rather than proactively planning technology in conjunction with their organization's business leaders.
Part I is divided into five chapters that describe the business and technical issues involved in technical architecture planning.
Chapter 1 describes the overall business environment, including some of the key business drivers and the management consulting initiatives.Knowing how to best utilize the BackOffice products requires an understanding of the thought process that went into their design. Chapter 2 describes briefly each BackOffice product and also presents Microsoft's component architecture strategy. From this, you gain a better understanding of which products should be combined to solve specific business problems.
Chapter 3 should be a review for most readers. It describes the technology involved in any technical architecture, from networking technologies to database technologies. We have emphasized client/server class products in this chapter.
In Chapter 4 we shift gears to describe the planning process itself. We have paid special attention to presenting this in the context of an existing information infrastructure. Most organizations do not have the luxury of throwing out their existing technology investment and starting from scratch, although in many of the infrastructures we have seen, this would be prudent. Understanding the planning, design, and implementation process is critical to successful BackOffice system/network planners-it is more important than understanding the nitty gritty details of any particular product.
In Chapter 5 we present the first of many matrices that are useful to technical architecture planners. We present these in terms of the common themes that you find throughout this book. These can be used as guidelines for later technical decisions, or as the basis for quantifying service-level agreements between business units and system support groups (whether internal or external to a corporation).
Part Two: BackOffice Technical Architecture Planning
Part II of the book moves the design process down one level of detail and focuses on the techniques that apply specifically to BackOffice technical architecture planning. Most MIS directors, network engineers, and systems engineers will be more familiar with the details in this part of the book, at least in principle, than with those in Part I.
Chapter 6 introduces Microsoft Network Monitor, a tool used throughout the book that helps in debugging a network, as well as interacting with third-party vendors to get effective technical support.
Chapter 7 focuses on Windows NT Server details and planning an overall Windows NT Server Domain Architecture. We leave the details of Microsoft Windows NT Server v5.0 organization planning to later chapters.
Chapter 8 focuses on planning the various network protocols supported by Microsoft Windows NT and its BackOffice products. This chapter should help you with better planning and implementing the right protocol for the task, and avoid networking and traffic-related problems associated to poor choices.
Chapter 9 focuses on planning a Microsoft Exchange Server v5.0 network, including decision points on the level of integration required with the Internet/intranet and extranets. It focuses heavily on understanding what information people need, when they need it, and who should have access to it.
Chapter 10 focuses on Microsoft SQL Server planning, design, and implementation. We explain the impact of SQL Server replication on an overall BackOffice network, and also introduce the concept of Windows NT Server clustering with regard to Microsoft SQL Server planning. A more detailed treatment of this topic is found in the Microsoft SQL Server book in this series.
Chapter 11 focuses on integration between SNA Server and an existing network. In this chapter, we also introduce information on using Microsoft's Component Object Model (COM) architecture to leverage an organization's investment in legacy technology.
Chapter 12 describes SMS planning techniques. Conceptually, this involves understanding a lot about an organization's political hierarchy, its existing security infrastructure, and the needs of the people within the organization.
Chapter 13 takes a departure from traditional information systems planning and focuses on Web site planning using Internet Information Server (IIS), Microsoft Site Server, and Microsoft Site Server, Commerce-Edition.
Part Three: System and Network Management
While Part II focused on planning each individual product, Part III focuses on systems and network management issues. Understanding these issues is critical to strong technical design.
Chapter 14 describes the need for creating a "sandbox" for testing networking issues involving protocols and interoperability between products. Example uses include setting up a Virtual Private Network for the purposes of accessing internal email and files.
Chapter 15 discusses techniques and tools to be used when analyzing networks and systems issues. This skill can be useful as both a troubleshooting and a planning tool. Through Chapter 15, we hope to give our readers an introduction to monitoring and planning in a Microsoft BackOffice network environment.
Chapter 16 focuses on using the results of testing and analysis for budgeting and planning for capacity. This chapter emphasizes testing in a lab environment (greenfield) and using the results to perform budgeting and capacity planning.
Many people are now migrating Novell or Lantastic LANs to Microsoft Windows NT Server in small office environments. We define small office as an office with less than 25 people. Microsoft created a special version of BackOffice designed and tuned especially for this market segment.
In Chapter 17 we describe how to identify the appropriate time to use a Microsoft BackOffice Small Business network and when to implement the full-blown Microsoft BackOffice solution instead.
Chapter 18 provides you with basic procedures for managing your network as well as a crisis management sheet and procedures for surviving disasters and living to talk about it. We talk about how to best approach Microsoft's PSS engineers to get the answers you need.
Part Four: Human Factors
People. Here is where it gets really interesting. The most important part of the job when implementing a BackOffice network is the proper selection of technical systems engineers. In most environments, a Microsoft BackOffice architect also needs to be a skilled, trained negotiator-or, have a good buddy within their organization who is.
Implementing a BackOffice network successfully requires skilled, trained professionals. Not just individuals with a bunch of letters after their names, but individuals and teams who are capable of recognizing a problem, proposing solutions, figuring out how much it will cost, writing a project plan, and managing the implementation. System administrators, network administrators, systems/network architects, and database administrators are just some of the roles and responsibilities described in Chapter 19.
Chapter 19 describes the skills required for each role within a BackOffice network. Certification exams test some of these skills; however, the certification exams do not indicate the ability of any individual to approach chaos and define a workable, manageable solution to meet business requirements.
Effective training on any BackOffice product must be obtained through a training center with an enterprise perspective. Chapter 20 describes the Microsoft Certified Technical Education (CTEC) channel and what it should provide you. It describes the different business models used by CTECs so that you can better understand what you are buying when you pay for training and why it may not have been what you needed. This chapter also describes why it is critical to make sure your Microsoft education is provided by trainers with hands-on experience.
Many business process-reengineering teams use a technique called change management to assist in the transition to new business processes. Chapter 21 describes this technique as it applies to BackOffice system and network implementation.
One of the largest barriers to successful BackOffice system implementation is political. Chapter 22 describes the very real circumstances involved in corporate politics and explains how some of our customers have navigated the political waters to successfully implement BackOffice networks.
Part Five: The Future
This section takes a look at new technologies being developed and how BackOffice will interact with them.
Chapter 23 takes a look at NT 5.0 and its impact on corporate network. It helps you get ready for the migration process as well as security issues in light of NT 5.0.
Chapter 24 discusses the internals of VPN as well as the PPTP protocol. It provides a comprehensive guide to implementing VPN in your corporate site to secure intranet and extranet connectivity.
About the CD-ROM
This book also contains a CD-ROM with some tools that may assist in BackOffice technical architecture planning. Please see the CD-ROM Appendix at the back of this book for more specific information on the CD-ROM.
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