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I've recently inherited a multi office network. There's 30 something computers across the 5 branches, and four servers at the primary office building:

  1. Server 2003 Box: Used to be the PDC, not sure if it was demoted properly. Currently stores files. Need to retire this server shortly as the hardware is quite old.

  2. Server 2008 R2 Box #1: Currently running Exchange and PDC. Also runs Backup Exec to back up stuff. Used to be our SQL server as well (shudder) until the backup died and management knee jerked into a new server (see Box #3)

  3. Server 2008 R2 Box #2: Runs Terminal Services for our remote users.

  4. Server 2008 R2 Box #3: Runs MSSQL for our database applications.

I'm in the process of cleaning up this network - it has not been set up in a consistent fashion (for example, some people had a roaming profile, others did not. People have changed PC's, servers have been added, and for some reason the SQL server seems to think it's a domain controller as well).

In an ideal world, I would simply back up the information on all the servers, wipe them all, and start again the right way. But that's not feasible from a time or money point of view.

I want to ensure that this network is running as optimally as possible. Are there any pointers or guides people can suggest for me to read to help in cleaning up and administering my network?

(Apologies if this is a little broad, I'm feeling a little overwhelmed after finding the SQL server running as a domain controller - this makes no sense to me!)

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What applications does the terminal server serve up? If its just running ms office apps then I'd just migrate the whole darn thing to office365 and be done with it. Of course you job title might change a bit.. – tony roth Mar 19 '13 at 13:37
Nah, it runs a labour hire application that connects to MSSQL server. I'm hoping to replace it with a web based application that suits the business flow more. As for Office 365, I'm looking into the pricing that our telco can do for us (We're in Australia and buy from Telstra, rather than Microsoft) – EvilChookie Mar 19 '13 at 22:49
up vote 3 down vote accepted

It sounds like you've inherited quite the mess and unfortunately it is such a broad task to clean something up like this it is hard to give specific advice beyond this:

  1. Do nothing else until this is done: Verify the location of all important data, verify that it is being backed up, verify the integrity of those backups, verify that you can successfully recover items from those backups and verify that you have some kind of off-site storage and Disaster Recovery plan.
  2. Inform your supervisor just how bad the mess is (maybe it is only a little bad, maybe it is really bad). Make sure you express the challenges of bringing things up to board and the risks of not doing so in business terms and not technical ones. You need to rally the resources of your organization, open lines of communication and get everyone on the same page. Messes just don't happen by accident. At the very least you have a professional obligation to inform your employer of the current state of their network.
  3. Begin the process of discovery and documentation. You need to discover and understand what's where, and what it does before you can begin "cleaning up". Right now you, although well intentioned, you run the very real risk of retiring or removing some piece of the network that, while seemingly was just dead legacy junk, was actually a key part of some strange hack to make some super important business critical application run. Really take your time here, document as well as you can and try to understand the underlying business process.
  4. Give Limoncelli's Test a read.
share|improve this answer
Thanks for the response. It's encouraging to know that I've basically followed most of your suggestions - I'm currently in step 3 with reliable backups. Limoncelli's Test will be a really helpful sort of checklist for the applicable parts - thanks a bunch! – EvilChookie Mar 19 '13 at 22:47

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