I am currently looking at replacing two AD DS Windows 2008 servers in two separate office branches that are EOL. I am wondering what the most up to date, practical, and efficient way is to manage about 100 devices/users in a small business environment. I am currently going about getting quotes for two new Windows 2016 Servers for our server racks.

Is this the best way? Should I be looking at something else?

Any advice would be appreciated.

  • You could explore the Office 365 Suite (Azure AD, MDM, etc.) of services. But that is best used in a hybrid environment for your size, IMO. – Appleoddity Jan 26 '18 at 3:01
  • What does the business do? Any Regulatory concerns? Any on-premise software need to be run? – pxed Feb 4 '18 at 20:00
  • @pxed It is a company that provides geological services. There are no regulatory concerns. Nothing other than a file share setup and domain services on the servers at the moment. – rgmrtn Feb 5 '18 at 20:52

Your environment is absolutely small enough to support going 100% cloud without too much difficulty. However, given the bandwidth limitations and desire to keep file shares locally --

I'd recommend getting a stand-alone server at each (which it sounds like you are doing). I'd run hyper-v on both so you can have two servers - a DC and a fileserver on each physical server. Ensure both sites are connected via VPN and that the servers are on the same domain. Configure DFS to handle file replication on your file servers. This will allow for your locations to failover for to the other office in case of a local hardware failure. (this is a bit old but gives a good overview of DFS if you are unfamiliar https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc782417(v=ws.10).aspx)

Make sure you have a solid backup, especially for the fileserver. I like MozyPro for small businesses. Veeam if you grow bigger (lots of small datacenter will lease Veeam licenses on a per VM price per month, this is WAY cheaper at a small scale than buying outright).

I'd still push email to office365, the hardware required to service highly available email for your environment would be too expensive and too much work. Office 365 will natively integrate with your on-premise active directory.

To get here, I'd set up the new servers and the new VMs in your current domain (unless you want to take the opportunity to change your domain name or radically restructure something). Configure DFS and ensure replication is working is a test environment, and then switch users to work off the new hardware. Once everyone is working and bugs are worked out, depreciate the old and use the old hardware as lab equipment. :)

I didn't want to wall-of-text you, but let me know if you want more information about any of these steps. Good luck with your project!


I would agree with @appleoddity. If you don't have any line of business applications that run on prem, Office 365 and Azure would be a great alternative to having an AD domain.

  • Azure AD (comes with most Office 365 Business & Enterprise plans) will handle authentication
  • Onedrive for Business can be used to replace your fileshares
  • Most plans also come with Exchange, SharePoint, Lync, Teams among other services as well if you need those tools.

If you add Enterprise Mobility + Security (EMS) you can manage devices as well.

There is a bit of a learning curve, especially with EMS but if you're looking for a modern approach to systems and data management, it's worth a look to see if it meets your needs.

  • I guess on restraint as that we would like to keep our file shares on the network. Our company is located where internet bandwidth is limited. Working on files across the internet would cause headaches. – rgmrtn Feb 7 '18 at 14:54

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