Engineers in Microsoft IT spend an unusually large amount of time talking to customers answering questions which start with:

How Does Microsoft IT Do...<fill in the blank here>?

I'm going to try to start to post some of the more common questions and answers in this blog to "share the wealth", but before I get to the first of these HDMSITD posts, I wanted to put in my "default disclaimer" and a little background information to help ease some confusion...so here it goes:

Default Disclaimer:

Odds are extremely high, that your environment does not look like Microsoft's.  In fact, I could guarantee it.  We do a lot to our internal deployments that most people would consider reckless, all for the sake of "dogfooding" (testing things on ourselves first).  So while I'm babbling on and on about how we do things internally, you should look for the "golden nuggets" that you find interesting.  Please don't take what we do wholesale and try it out against your production environment. 

Ok, that much being said...I'm going to ramble on a bit about our environment so everyone will have some context of where I'm coming from, again to help find the nuggets that may be useful:

We have multiple production, pre-production, and test forests for various business purposes, most of them are 1 or 2 domain forests but our largest contains an empty root and 8 children geographically dispersed...But wait...doesn't MS say not to use an empty root now?  Yes...we do...and given the chance to start all over again, we'd probably have one big happy domain...but I digress...

Our main forest has about 100K user accounts, and 300K machine accounts, which represent MS employees in 400+ sites worldwide...our AD database is ~10GB on Windows Server 2003 (~18GB in Windows 2000) and about half of our ~200 DC's are 64-bit, with plans to be fully 64-bit by next summer.

One of the nicer things about our environment is that we generally don't have problems with bandwidth, and this is one of the places where we diverge from many of our customers. 

So now you've got some background on where I'm coming from and what our internal environment looks like, which should help put some of our HDMSITD... questions in context.