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Why I Ditched Domain Controllers

Iron II
Iron II

Friends don’t let friends buy unnecessary hardware for domain controllers. I was recently consulting with a client who’s a principal at a family law firm with her folks. Naturally, that also made her the default IT person. Her last MSP wanted to charge the firm over $10k for a do-nothing domain controller. 

It literally did nothing except for managing printers. No policies. No SSO connectivity. No redundancy. Nothing was being accomplished other than increasing their (cyber) attack surface area ... and keeping the spiders warm. It was an unpatched Windows 2008 Server. Her brother was so unsettled by it that he unplugged it every night!

My first instinct was to recommend refurbished hardware, saving them a bundle. But the fact remained that there wasn’t much payback even if I added someone policy benchmarks to secure their devices (other than not being compromised). Thinking differently and ditching domain controllers made it possible to spare them the cost of the hardware and do more for less. Even setting up a DC - without even doing anything special - takes hours (wasted).

It's 2022 and it should be easy for an SME to add SSO, MFA, and RADIUS services for their Wi-Fi, without having to build a datacenter. Read more about that experience ... it was eye-opening for me. The question is, how many other SMEs are in the same exact situation and overspending on IT with little to show for it?


Novitiate III

This is EXACTLY why I exist.  Most of my clients are 'micro' and small businesses; usually "Ma & Pop" type outfits.  I try and do consulting but end up doing a lot of direct tech support and management.

JC seems like a great alternative, but I'm having trouble implementing it from the ad-hoc environments I walk into.  Most the how-tos seem to expect more local resources and a functional AD to migrate from.  I'm lucky if my clients even have a domain in most cases!  What I usually find is a bunch of cobbled together Bestbuy Black Friday deals stretching back 10 years and a few pieces of 2nd hand 'pro' gear.  When I see what they spend, it's usually an appalling ROI.  So I'd say to your question, MOST.

It's expensive to be poor/cheap.  I see it over and over and over.  Explaining that is really hard for people to understand though.

Community Manager Community Manager
Community Manager

Oh yeah, that short term / long term mindset is really hard to explain to some folks, especially in small biz for some reason. Does it help at all to talk to them about Total Cost of Ownership? If so, maybe our resources linked from here:The IT Hour | 05.August.2022 Total Cost of Ownership could be helpful. You can show them difference scenarios of costs using our calculator (if you're not already using it).

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