Domain Exploration

I may have noted this before, but I do quite a bit of local domain exploration, service detection, backup system verification, design and implementation. Finding devices and tagging them is a very helpful process, as I have seen quite a few 3rd party contractor run organizations over the years. The most fun part, is when you are local and have been asked to survey said network, you are within the letter of the law, able to help fix things, and in my case, having fun along the way.

Common thread 01: Verify all backups.
– You will be told everything is being backed up, but do not believe it. The tricky part in validating this, is knowing enough about the business systems to identify the types of data systems and file shares they utilize. Are the MSSQL driven, do they have file shares and DB pointers, etc.

How are the backups run, what is being backed up, on what schedule, full or differential, local and remote backups? Especially in the realm of contractors, you need to validate all of this. I have seen many assumptions that “backing up the main file server” will catch everything. However in reality this tends to be false. Does the application or users rely on local information? Does that replicate somewhere? Virtual / DFS a factor too?

As you can see, questions are a huge factor to mapping an existing network. Be polite to the prior contractor if you are able to obtain information before they leave. Even a subtle hint can go a long way. What backup systems are in use? Can you show me the main backups? This will establish the known systems and applications used for data backup.

From there, I am currently mapping each server to backup systems. Since there are multiple backup utilities in place, I am logging use of each one on every server. Since I have some DBA experience, I find mapping each portion to be effective in delivering a more concise end-report. Think of it as System Normalization. Once the Server Side is mapped, I will correlate the Business systems to backup methodologies.

Speaking of Business Systems / Application Data… Do not be afraid of working with end users. They will possibly and probably be your best indication of where information is being stored. Either by them telling you, or checking their mapped drives and local / web based application configurations.

:) From Week 02 of my new gig. Tons of data and business systems here. As I have encountered many times in the past, the belief of “everything being backed up properly”, is a huge bluff. Thank goodness at least most essential systems are here. Believe me when I have seen places with 0 active backup systems.
Since I am an employee here, they will not get all pissed about me finding problems and resolving them.

Interview wisely, my friends. There are many many many bad companies out there. Try to find the better ones, even if you go without pay for a longer time period. Your life and mind will thank you.