Chapter 7: Windows Production Environment

Establishing a production environment is an important step in migrating to the Windows platform. It is necessary to take into account how the Windows Server production environment should be designed, what production roles need to be established, and what processes need to be in place. Many different resources are available from Microsoft and its partners that provide information on these subjects:

  • Architectural guidance is available through the Microsoft Windows Server System Reference Architecture, with specific certified configurations established by Windows Server hardware and software vendors.

  • Processes for production operations are based on the Microsoft Operations Framework (MOF), which is based on the internationally recognized Information Technology Information Library (ITIL) set of best practices.

  • Guidance on establishing operational roles is also available through the Microsoft Operations Framework.

Note  The Microsoft Systems Architecture (MSA) has been renamed the Windows Server System Reference Architecture (WSSRA), integrating the best practice guidance for all components of the Windows Server System.


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Windows Server System Reference Architecture — Formerly MSA Windows Server System Reference Architecture — Formerly MSA
Microsoft Operations Framework Microsoft Operations Framework
Enterprise Production Processes and Roles – MOF Enterprise Production Processes and Roles – MOF

Windows Server System Reference Architecture — Formerly MSA

The Windows Server System Reference Architecture is a documentation set that guides organizations deploying Microsoft technologies at all stages of the IT implementation life cycle. The guidance provides an architectural framework that has been tested and proven in the lab with key hardware and software partners. The typical audience for WSSRA documentation includes technical and business decision makers, architects, designers, administrators, and developers.

High-level use of the documentation serves as an aid to organizations developing standardized approaches to technology infrastructure. This architectural framework approach solves many typical enterprise-level problems that arise through unstructured, piece-by-piece, and nonstandards based growth. Low-level use of the documentation in the areas of design, build, test, and operation provides a tactical approach to solving implementation issues or leveraging best practice guidance to reduce implementation time, risk, and cost.

Two sets of documents make up WSSRA, the Reference Blueprints and the Implementation Guides.

Reference Blueprints

The Reference Blueprints allow business and technical decision makers to fully understand and plan for a solution, and helps architects begin the architecture and design process. The architecture blueprints provide the architectural principals and design options in common areas of technology infrastructure such as security, networking, storage, management, and application infrastructure. The service blueprints provide a description of the available design options, along with their advantages and disadvantages for a given set of IT services. Architects and designers can use these discussions to make the choice best suited to a given set of requirements.

Implementation Guides

The Implementation Guides result from the application of design processes documented in the blueprints, and the business requirements identified in the defined scenarios. (For scenario details, please refer to the Introduction to Windows Server System Reference Architecture document.) These scenarios are then tested in the WSSRA labs. The Implementation Guides include the following three guides that detail specific instructions for planning, building, and establishing operational requirements.

  • Planning Guide. This guide provides details of the exact design decisions that were made in the Reference Blueprints as the team built out the WSSRA scenarios, along with the rationale for each of these decisions.

  • Build Guide. This guide details the exact steps that were taken to reproduce the scenarios in the test lab. These instructions were used by the test team to implement each component of the infrastructure and to execute the required test cases.

  • Operations Guide. This guide provides the references to relevant product level operations guidance for all hardware and software components of the solution. The information in these guides can be used to build procedures that ensure systems are correctly managed and run, and to help achieve maximum uptime with minimum overheads.

Microsoft Operations Framework

The Microsoft Operations Framework (MOF) provides guidance that enables organizations to achieve mission-critical system reliability, availability, supportability and manageability of Microsoft products and technologies.

MOF is closely related to the Microsoft Solutions Framework (MSF), which is the Microsoft approach to planning, building, and deploying a variety of technology solutions. MSF and MOF have been designed to work effectively together as well as independently.

MOF "adopts and adapts" Information Technology Information Library (ITIL), and combines these collaborative industry best practices with specific guidelines for running on the Microsoft platform in a variety of business scenarios. MOF extends the ITIL code of practice to support distributed IT environments and current industry directions such as application hosting, mobile-device computing, and Web-based transactional and e-commerce systems.

Two concepts are important to understanding how MOF supports IT operations. These two concepts are service solutions and IT service management.

Service solutions are the capabilities, or business functions, that IT provides to its customers and users. Some examples of service solutions are:

  • Line-of-business (LOB) applications

  • Messaging

  • Knowledge management

  • E-commerce

  • Web services

  • File and print services

  • Information publishing

  • Data storage

  • Network connectivity

MOF embraces the concept of IT operations providing business-focused service solutions through the use of well-defined service management functions (SMFs). These SMFs provide consistent policies, procedures, standards, and best practices that can be applied across the entire suite of service solutions found in today's IT environments.

Where ITIL groups core operational processes into two sets — service support (processes associated with the end-users of IT services) and service delivery (those processes associated with the paying customers of IT services), MOF organizes these core ITIL processes, plus additional MOF processes, into four quadrants of the Process Model:

  • Changing

  • Operating

  • Supporting

  • Optimizing

Each of the quadrants has a unique mission of service that is accomplished through the implementation and execution of underlying operational processes and activities contained in the SMFs. For example, in the Changing Quadrant, the underlying SMFs are: Change Management, Configuration Management and Release Management. Together, these functions comprehensively support the Changing Quadrant's mission of service, which is to effectively identify, approve, control and release changes to the IT environment. The quadrants are represented in the model shown following. Note that in most cases activities from all quadrants occur simultaneously. Each of the quadrants is represented in the following graphic.


For more information on MOF, refer to:

Enterprise Production Processes and Roles – MOF

The MOF Team Model is based on the experience that an operations team must achieve a number of key goals to be successful. These goals are the basis of organizing MOF procedures into six clusters, defined as groups of activities that share a common goal. Production roles are also organized according to these clusters. These clusters are described under the following subheadings.

Release Processes

The release cluster typically tracks changes and lessons learned in a corporate knowledge base, and tracks inventory and changes in a configuration management database. This cluster is considered the primary liaison between the change development team and the operations groups, and includes the ITIL disciplines of configuration management and software control and distribution.

Release roles include:

  • Change Management

  • Release or Systems Engineering

  • Configuration Control or Asset Management

  • Software Distribution and Licensing

  • Quality Assurance

Infrastructure Processes

The infrastructure cluster clearly defines physical environment standards, manages physical assets, maintains IT infrastructure, and oversees architecture evolution by selecting and managing the building blocks upon which end-to-end services depend, and by managing common or shared data. This cluster also helps coordinate building and office moves, expansions and acquisitions, and physical environment modifications such as wiring, lab space and user connectivity.

Infrastructure roles include:

  • Enterprise Architecture

  • Infrastructure Engineering

  • Capacity Management

  • Cost and IT Budget Management

  • Resource and Long-range Planning

Support Processes

The responsibility of the support cluster is to create a successful team that sets and meets the high standards of support for internal and external customers.

Support roles include:

  • Service/Help Desk

  • Production and Production Support

  • Problem Management

  • Service Level Management

Operations Processes

The operations cluster ensures that daily tasks are performed reliably, and meets this goal with skilled specialists focused on technology areas and production systems, such as messaging, system administration, telecommunications, networking and database administration. Other duties include scheduled and repeatable processes such as data backup, archiving and storage, output management, system monitoring, event log management, and file and print server management.

Operations roles include:

  • Messaging Operations

  • Database Operations

  • Availability Management

  • Network Administration

  • Monitoring and Metrics

The partner cluster’s responsibility is to define and manage partnerships in a mutually beneficial and cost-effective way. This cluster includes both the internal manager responsible for the relationships with external parties, and those parties themselves.

Partner-related roles include:

  • Maintenance Vendors

  • Environment Support

  • Managed Services/Outsourcers/Trading Partners

  • Software and Hardware Suppliers

Security Processes

This cluster's primary goals are ensuring data confidentiality, data integrity, and data availability. Specialists in the security cluster meet these goals using technology, but also by influencing business policies, for example, defining exit procedures for employees leaving the organization.

Security roles include:

  • Intellectual Property Protection

  • Network and System Security

  • Intrusion Detection

  • Virus Protection

  • Audit and Compliance Administration

  • Contingency Planning

Service Management Functions

Service Management Functions provide operational guidance for Microsoft technologies employed in computing environments for information technology applications. This is a core function of the MOF and provides guidance through courses, services, guides, and other materials that enable organizations to achieve mission-critical system reliability, availability, supportability, and manageability of IT solutions.