Han Solo and the Easy Way to Test Your Active Directory Disaster Recovery [New Tech Brief]

I knew it would not be easy to discuss Active Directory disaster recovery with Han Solo. He was more anxious than usual when I ran into him at the Mos Eisley Cantina. But I had news about setting up an Active Directory virtual lab that I wanted him to hear. Han’s a real influencer and a good guy to have on your side – if you can get him on your side.

“People take the health of their AD for granted,” I told him. “They don’t test disaster recovery until it’s too late.”

“I’ve got other things on my mind,” he said, “like trying to find a fare.”

“Of course. Just like you, everybody has a million other priorities, so they procrastinate putting together a virtual lab to make sure they can restore Active Directory. But that’s only part of the problem.”

“I can’t focus on that,” he said. “Hey, you know anybody who needs a starship and a crew?”

“Same old Han Solo,” I said. “Always on the make.” I tried to bring him back to Active Directory.

“Han, did you read that tech brief on Active Directory disaster recovery I gave you the other day?”

“What tech brief?” he said. “I don’t have time to read about disaster recovery, and besides, Chewie and I have gotten the Millennium Falcon out of more disasters than I can count.”

“This tech brief.” I showed him a readout of Testing Your Active Directory Disaster Recovery Plan. “Just have a look at this,” I told him. “You need to know this stuff.”

He took a gulp of his drink, scanned the room quickly with his eyes, then skimmed the introduction aloud. “business-critical . . . can grind to a halt . . . AD disaster recovery plan . . . when was the last time you tested . . . you may find out at the wrong time how difficult recovery can be  . . . Active Directory Virtual Lab. . . hard way . . . easy way . . .”

“Why should I worry about this?” he said. “My disaster recovery plan is simple: Get out fast. And it always works.” His eyes darted around the room.

“Besides, I wouldn’t have the time to put together a virtual lab even if I needed one.”

“That’s what I’m saying. Most people are focused on other things. But then there’s the other part of the problem. Restoring AD to an empty forest, doing a directory sync, creating/isolating, using P2V — all of those techniques are really hard.”

“I understand hard,” he said.

“You evaluate source domain controllers, prepare your target environment, configure and run P2V, check that the target DCs are isolated, run a half-dozen post-conversion tasks . . . You can spend weeks on it, then your production DCs accidentally find the ones in your lab and everything gets screwed up. Setting up a virtual lab manually is really hard.”

“Hard?” he said abruptly. “You think that’s hard? Let me tell you about hard. Maintaining any machine that Lando Calrissian has ever touched is hard. Making the Kessel Run in less than twelve parsecs is hard. Keeping a reconditioned hyperdrive running long after you can’t get parts for it is hard. And most of all, staying ahead of Jabba when you owe him is hard.”

“Yes, Han, all of those things are hard. But it’s also hard when you suddenly get hit with an AD disaster and you’ve never tested your disaster recovery plan properly. Sysadmins who have read this tech brief tell me they sleep better knowing there’s an easy way to create an AD virtual lab.”

“I’ve flown from one side of this galaxy to the other, and I’ve seen a lot of strange stuff, but I’ve never seen anything to make me believe there’s an easy way to create an Active Directory virtual lab.”

I opened the tech brief to the section titled “Active Directory Virtual Lab—The easy way.”

“Read this part, Han. It describes how to create a virtual lab in a fraction of the time required to do it manually.”

He read intently, looking up from time to time.

“Huh,” he said. “This could be valuable. Do many people know how easy it can be to set up a virtual lab?”

“What do you mean by ‘many people?’ This tech brief is brand new.”

“I mean Jabba. If I showed him the easy way, he might let me off the hook.”

“You could do better than show him. You could do it for him.”

He scanned the room again. Chewbacca was walking toward the table with an old man in brown robes and a young, blond kid.

“I gotta talk to these guys,” he said. “If this easy way of yours gets me out of my bind, I’ll owe you big-time.”

I rose to leave. “Just spread the word, Han. You run with a crowd that’s always recovering from some disaster or other.”

About the Author
Keri.Farrell
Keri Farrell is a Senior Product Manager for Quest and has worked for Quest for 11 years but has been in the IT industry for 20 years. She specializes in Disaster Recovery for both Active Directory and...