Servers & Systems: The Right Compute

Launching Active Directory? How to choose the right hardware and domain name strategy

Setting up Active Directory is simple, but choosing a domain name strategy isn't. Learn how to choose the best strategy and how HPE ProLiant Gen10 Servers can help.

HPE Small Business-Active Directory instruction-blog.jpgSetting up Active Directory in the right way—a way that accounts for rapid growth and settings changes—requires work and forethought.

For small businesses in particular, part of that planning requires choosing a domain name strategy that's best suited to accommodate unpredictable levels of business growth and change. Another strategic move is choosing the best server for Active Directory. In this piece, you'll learn how to devise your naming strategy to allow for rapid growth, and why HPE ProLiant Gen10 Servers may be a good choice for you when setting up Active Directory servers.

Why domain name strategy matters

Active Directory naming strategies should be well-thought-out. Why? When you build your Active Directory structure, the first domain you deploy will serve as the parent of all future domains for the lifecycle of the Active Directory deployment. This domain is called the "forest root" because all subsequent domains grow from it. A poorly planned naming strategy can cause multiple headaches later because changing the forest root—and subsequently all other domains—is a complex and tedious process.

If you work at an small business, design a strategy that assumes the business will expand. Your strategy should be able to accommodate company growth without creating a need to redo names and settings later on. Since setting up Active Directory servers is not a common activity, it pays to spend extra time reviewing the process to ensure you've thought through all the possibilities.

Choosing the best naming strategy

There are three basic naming strategies that most companies follow. The first strategy is to make the Active Directory domain the same as the business's internet domain. That means if your company internet domain is, then your Active Directory domain also would be This is not the best choice, because having the same internal and external domain names can expose your internal Active Directory domain to unnecessary security risks. This option is also not recommended by Microsoft.

A second option is to name your Active Directory domain something completely unrelated to your internet domain. This option adds more security than the first option by providing more separation between internal and external domains. Yet this choice fails to create a meaningful connection between the domains. The discrepancy also presents challenges when managing your networks.

The best strategy, and the one recommended by Microsoft, is to add a sub-domain to your internet domain. If your internet domain is, then your Active Directory sub-domain could be or The name should be short, generic, and logically aligned with your networking strategy. Avoid the temptation to use a business location as the sub-domain (such as Doing so can cause naming issues if your business moves. As a general rule, keep names simple and always assume your SMB will expand.

The right servers make setting up Active Directory easier

Once you've decided your naming strategy for Active Directory, it's time to choose the hardware you'll deploy it on. The first step is ensuring the hardware is compatible with the installation. You can confirm this using the Microsoft Windows Server compatibility list.

When selecting your server, it's always a good idea to find one sized specifically for SMBs. Hardware that's built with small businesses in mind is often preconfigured and validated to run SMB-specific use cases, such as running the organization on a single server.

For example, HPE ProLiant Gen10 Servers are available in configurations tailored to your unique needs. They can also make setting up your Active Directory a little easier, both because they're compatible with Windows Server and Active Directory and because they are designed to simplify the setup of an SMB IT infrastructure.

Whether your goal is to protect your network from security threats, run virtual machines, run applications, store or back up files, or provide highly available storage, there's a Gen10 Server to match. The HPE ProLiant Server Solutions Wizard takes two minutes to help you match the right server solution to your current business needs as well as prepare for future business growth.

As mentioned earlier, setting up Active Directory is simple. Once you've chosen a naming strategy and the server on which to deploy Active Directory, the hard part is over. This video walks you through the initial steps required to deploy a new network server. It's a helpful overview that allows you to know what to expect from the process and which items and features to check.

A well-thought-out Active Directory strategy is a critical step in the process of getting a new IT infrastructure up and running. By following the tips outlined above, you'll put your organization in a strong position to enjoy business growth with minimal hassle.

Learn more about HPE Small Business Solutions.

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Ready to take the next step? Check out the SMB Hybrid IT for Dummies Guide. Because there are no “dumb” questions!

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Ronda Swaney.jpgMeet Server Experts blogger Ronda Swaney. Ronda is a content marketer focusing on IT, technology, and healthcare for CXOs, consultants, and entrepreneurs. She advises clients on how to best communicate their messaging by taking complex material and simplifying it to engage both tech geeks and the uninitiated. Connect with Ronda on Twitter: @RondaSwaney


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