DSE Scenario: Improve your IT Health - Active Directory

DSE Scenario: Improve your IT Health - Active Directory

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This article is a follow up from the "Dedicated Support Engineers: What They Are and How They Can Help You" post.  In this post I want to highlight how a DSE can help your organisation with Active Directory projects and performance troubleshooting.  Over the last year I have been involved in a number of projects to help Microsoft Premier Support customers improve the health of their Active Directory infrastructure.  In this post I'll cover Typical Requests of an AD DSE & Customer key takeaways.

At the beginning of any DSE engagement, it's important to spend some time getting to know the customer's infrastructure.  No two customers work the same way and there will be always be subtle differences in the way they have AD configured.  Ideally they will already have had an ADRAP (Active Directory Risk Assessment Program), which provides us with a detailed report on their AD structure and how healthy it is.  This is always a good starting point.

Typical requests of an AD DSE

  1. Help drive ADRAP remediation - Many customers will have had an ADRAP, to assess the health of their AD infrastructure. Part of this delivery is a remediation planning session, which helps customers identify the best approach to remediate improvement points. Sometimes customers have difficulty implementing remediation plans due to other commitments, staffing issues, loss of focus etc and the AD remains unchanged. I can work with the customer to provide focus and promote that remediation is carried out and the AD made healthy.
  2. Identify the root cause of performance issues with AD\Exchange - This seems to be a common issue among the customers I've worked with over the past year. Degradation in AD performance can cause noticeable slowdowns in Exchange. The last customer I was working with also had an Exchange DSE engaged at the time and between us, we analysed performance data from both Exchange and AD and made recommendations based on our findings. Our only ask of the customer was to run a data capture using the Performance Monitor templates we provided and pass the data back to us.
  3. Assist in AD upgrade\new platform rollouts - Many customers are working vigorously to deploy Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 and are very keen to take advantage of the new features. Usually I'd help to educate them about the best practice of using new features through chalk & talk sessions\informal chats\e-mailing resources relevant to them and keeping them informed of other events that might help. I'd also help them around best practice during deployment, as well as performing a supportability review of their migration documentation.
  4. Deliver informal chalk & talk sessions - Quite often customers have a requirement to train staff in particular areas but have no budget for training and\or travel. As a DSE, I know the customer's infrastructure and people quite well, so this puts me in a good position to tailor deliveries to fit their requirements. Examples of this would be AD replication, AD disaster recovery, Kerberos authentication process, etc. It's also possible to pull in other DSEs to deliver sessions that fall outside of my skillset if need be.
  5. Assist in troubleshooting - When issues do occur that customers haven't seen before, they always find it useful to call on me to assist in the troubleshooting. Some problems need instant escalation into the GTSC (phone based support team) which I can facilitate, and for other problems I work directly with the customer to provide guidance and direction.

Customer key takeaways

  1. Improved staff skills through knowledge transfer. I don't necessarily do the work for the customer, but guide them through performing the task themselves in a supported way, whilst adhering to best practice. This coupled with bespoke chalk & talk deliveries provides an invaluable source of information to help customers develop their skillset.
  2. Access to a trusted advisor who in turn has access to a wealth of knowledge within Microsoft. Any questions that can't be answered by myself can be fed back to my colleagues and escalated within Microsoft if need be. We're more than happy to field questions about other technology areas and relay them back to the relevant people.
  3. Reduced downtime by driving recommended remediation work. This often follows an ADRAP or supportability review of implementation documentation.
  4. Confidence that new implementation\upgrade plans conform to Microsoft best practice through supportability reviews. I would also work with them during the implementation of these plans to ensure that any problems are tackled quickly & effectively.

 

In summary, over the past year I've helped customers to build confidence in the health of their AD infrastructure, as well as providing valuable knowledge transfer to enable them to maintain that health moving forward.  Customers have seen great value in having me work with their team to promote AD health assist them in overcoming obstacles.

Well thanks for reading this far. Hopefully this post has helped provide some reality on what a DSE can do to help promote AD Health. If you have any questions just post a comment or talk to your Technical Account Manager.

Thanks

Neil Walker
Dedicated Support Engineer
Microsoft Premier Support

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  • Hi Neil,

    I need active directory related questionaris for KT purpose can you please send me that doc.

    Thanks

    Sudhakar J

  • Hi,

    I need active directory related questionaris for KT purpose can you please send me that doc

    Thanks

    Sudhakar J

  • Hi Sudhakar,

    Thanks for your question but I'm not exactly sure which document you're referring to.  Could you please give me some more detail and I'll happily help where I can.

    Thanks

    Neil

  • Hi Neil,

    Our company has taken a new project of managing a company's network. I will have to manage AD of their domain and request your suggestions as to what information is needed to collect before I proceed.