A lot of Skytap customers ask about running Windows domains in Skytap.  Running domain controllers with test domains in Skytap Cloud can make a lot of sense. With the snapshot and network isolation technology, Skytap Cloud is the perfect development and test environment for this use case.

Almost all Windows server products require the use of a Windows domain.  Some examples include Microsoft Exchange and SharePoint.  The challenge in working with these products is that they can be very burdensome and destructive to your domain.  Once you install them, there are changes made to your Domain Controllers which can be difficult to role back. Some additional challenges that one can have with other cloud and/or on-premise virtualization solutions include: 

  • Inability to effectively clone, or shapshot a domain controller
  • Not being able to easily isolate dev/test environments that might have a clone of a domain controller
  • Expired certificates between domain members and the domain controller
  • Duplicate SIDs.  Another VM that was the clone of another domain member and has a SID that is a duplicate of its parent

One best practice approach is to make your development environment as contained as possible.  Your environment should include a Domain Controller, with any needed member servers joined to the domain.  As you run through your development and test cases, you should take and maintain snapshots of the entire virtual environment.  This would include the Domain Controller and the member servers.  This is incredibly simple to do in Skytap Cloud.  When you come across a situation where you need to revert back to a previous state, you can easily switch back to the entire virtual environment from the snapshot. This avoids conflicts with servers and workstations with duplicate domain identifiers, or expired certificates. These simple procedures can help simplify and accelerate your development and test life cycles.

Skytap Cloud truly makes domain based development and test projects a match made in heaven!

– Mike Neil