New Server Architecture

Since we are releasing a new server architecture in the middle of the school year, we do not have the usual luxury of lots of unstructured summer days to sit down and plan every last detail of the network in advance. Instead, we find little bits of time here and there to have short conversations with each other, document them in our shared online workspace, and reflect about the changes on our own. Thankfully, this strategy has proven very effective so far.

We had our first network design department meeting yesterday, and we were all well-versed in the issues on the table. We thought that we had figured out what network design we were going to select. To my surprise, we ended the meeting in a very different place from where we started.

Our current design was created by network consultants three and a half years ago. It called for a parent domain for administrators and a child domain for teachers and students. At the meeting, we came up with a new design: one parent domain and three child domains: one for admins, one for teachers, and one for students. This will streamline the exchange of information among different domains and create a new security barrier between student and teacher data. All of the user data will reside in the child domains, and shared services (mail, list, and web servers) will reside in the parent domain.

I am convinced that we would not have been able to move to a new network design had we not already had our individual conversations, personal reflections, and shared documentation. At the same time, we would not have been able to move to a new model without our hour and a half group meeting. We intend to continue to employ this design method for the other aspects of our network.

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