Mission Impossible – Designing An Active Directory Migration to Meet Real World Requirements

Acquiring company, the IMF, is buying a division of the Syndicate. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to plan out all of the technical aspects of an Active Directory migration and be ready for execution beginning Day One.

No one without a need-to-know in either company can know about this until the acquisition is announced publicly. You’ll be required to set up directory synchronization with the acquired entity but will not be able to establish a trust, because you won’t be permitted that level of access. Many of the sAMAccountNames in the Syndicate environment have different names than those in the IMF environment. There are 5,000 workstations that will need to be migrated – many of which are operated by remote workers who typically only access the corporate network via VPN. All of the technical back-end work must be ready in advance of the migration. You have three weeks to develop your plan and three weeks to perform the migration.

As always, should you, or any member of your migration team fail, you will be disavowed by the CIO. This message will self-destruct in five seconds. Good luck…

So, would you sign the NDA for this fictitious business situation and accept the assignment?

Mission Impossible Banner

Sure, every network administrator and migration manager loves a challenge – right? The point is that most of the time, it is the business requirements that drive and shape what an Active Directory migration looks like. And while it’s easy to get caught up in the technical requirements, that’s not how it works in the real world. Business requirements, or more realistically, competing business requirements, drive “the how.” As a technical professional, you need to be cognizant of the business side in order to determine the technical requirements. Ultimately, it’s a combination of both that will drive the design of your Active Directory migration project.

Assuming you’ve taken the assignment, here are just a few best practices on how to get ready for the acquisition.

  1. Take an inventory of the users and the workstations to be migrated.
  2. Identify the operating system versions (Windows XP, Windows 7, and Windows 8), and formulate the plan to migrate them. Remember, you’ll need a different migration method for Windows XP vs. Windows 8, which will also affect the velocity of your migration and require a phased approach.
  3. Determine those users who are working remotely on a VPN connection and those who are not. As part of the remote requirements, identify the geographic location of each. This could affect your migration from a bandwidth perspective if you have users in low bandwidth locations.
  4. Review the sAMAccountNames in both the source and target domains to identify the differences in naming.


We’d love to share more of our secret operative information on migration, but mark your calendar to learn much more at our Designing An Active Directory Migration to Meet Real-World Requirements webinar on May 28th.  Register today!