Why a secondary DC is critical to operations

Being prepared for the worst is what IT professionals do best. When it comes to your business’ Domain Controller (DC) or Active Directory, losing it could mean days of expensive downtime.

Domain controller


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What Is A Domain Controller?

A Domain Controller is found in a Windows Server domain. A DC is responsible for responding to requests for security authentication. Located in a Windows NT or Microsoft Windows network, the DC server is responsible for letting hosts access various domain resources in the Windows system.

When it comes to the Active Directory service offered by Windows, the Domain Controller is at the centre. Not only does it authenticate different users, but it also stores account info for these users and is responsible for enforcing the securities policies that have been established for a Windows domain.

Why Resilience Is Important

In an environment with just a single Domain Controller, failures can lead to some major issues. The problems can be summed up in a few words: expense, inefficiency, and inconvenience.

For businesses that have only one Domain Controller, failure will lead to big-time consequences, such as:

  • Remote workers will be unable to authenticate;
  • Application services that use AD authentication will stop functioning;
  • Business critical systems relying on the above services will also falter, which may include the ERP system;
  • If the AD does DHCP and DNS, these protocols will also fail, which means internet routing will stop working;
  • New workstations logging on to the systems will not be able to get their IP addresses, which means they will require manual assignment.

These are things that not only inconvenience and delay team members and processes, but also delay the actual work of getting the servers up-and-running again.

In many cases, it takes days for the system environment to get back into the full swing of things, and that downtime can cost a business a significant amount of time and money.

Unfortunately, the majority of businesses that find themselves in this position discover–too late–that there is no usable backup at the infrastructure level that they can use to restore their Domain Controller.

With their one and only DC gone and the Active Directory all but broken, they basically will be forced to spend days (or even weeks) reconstructing the server from scratch.

The key to avoiding this downtime is addressing two weak points. First, the business needs to realise how important it is to invest in a second Domain Controller that is able to take over for the failed DC in the event that one stops working.

While the failed DC will still need to be addressed quickly to keep things running at full-speed, the secondary will prove critical in avoiding complete, lengthy periods of downtime. The second factor is one that is far too often overlooked: backing up data.

Setup a Secondary Domain Controller

Not only will losing your DC mean a long rebuilding process ahead and the potential of lost data, but it also means interrupted operations and paying professionals overtime in hopes that you can get things up and running again quickly.

That means a smart business owner will invest in the addition of a second Domain Controller and they’ll also take the time to establish automatic backups so they don’t ever have to subject their team to a complete system rebuild. The backups should take place regularly being that, even in a single DC environment, they can save a business’ substantial time and capital.

When a primary or secondary Domain Controller fails, a recent backup can be used to restore one or both Domain Controllers quickly and with as little downtime and headache as possible. It’s important to emphasise that, without that backup, a business will find themselves in a difficult position.

It could take many days of overtime pay across multiple team members to restore things back to normal, and that’s why more and more companies are beginning to take the time and effort to establish backup protocols for their servers.

The reason why businesses should invest in both a secondary Domain Controller and backups is simple.

In addition to being able to restore a failed DC fast thanks to a reliable and recent backup, a secondary DC will be able to keep things running even when one has failed. This minimises downtime, maximises operations, and keeps restoration as quick and simple as possible.

In a two Domain Controller environment, the DCs should be set up so that they replicate one another and backup frequently. That’s the most sensible setup for any business’ systems, and it can make a huge difference in maintaining stable and efficient operations. So, the question is, how can it be done?

Azure Has The Solution

If your business currently runs on a single Domain Controller setup, adding a secondary Domain Controller is made easy thanks to Azure. In a short amount of time, your business can have a secondary DC setup and ready-to-go, contained within the Azure cloud.

With a newly implemented solution, your company can enjoy resilience in your Active Directory environment, giving your business peace of mind.

Plus, the best part is that this approach actually comes with multiple benefits for your business. In addition to keeping your servers up and running, your business will also gain an identity platform in the cloud with this setup.

Once you have extended your Active Directory to the cloud, it will be easy for your company to begin deploying new applications (or migrating existing ones) into Azure instead of on-premises.

Additionally, more and more companies are seeking these updates in an attempt to become GDPR and Cyber Essentials compliant. In fact, there are countless reasons why your business should take action and take the next steps

Take The Next Step

Looking to minimise the risk of downtime associated with your systems and ensure your business’ stable operations? Move your company into the future of scalability, security, and ease with a quick and simple update.

Contact us for a free call with one of our Azure consultants. We’ll discuss the suitability and proper approach in order to give your business the best possible solution.

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