Site Links in Active Directory (AD) represent logical, reliable network connections between sites. They play a critical role in the replication process by defining the path along which replication traffic flows. Let's dive into a deeper explanation of Site Links and their role during Active Directory replication.
Definition of Site Links
Site Links in Active Directory are used to represent the physical or logical network connections between different sites in an organization's network. These links are utilized by the Knowledge Consistency Checker (KCC) to generate the replication topology for Active Directory replication.
Site Links are established within the Active Directory Sites and Services snap-in. Each Site Link contains two or more sites, with each site able to belong to multiple Site Links. The link can utilize either IP or SMTP as the transport protocol.
Role of Site Links in Active Directory Replication
In Active Directory, replication is the process by which changes made to objects in one domain controller are synchronized with other domain controllers in the network. This is a vital mechanism for ensuring data consistency across the network.
Replication Path: Site Links play a crucial role in defining the path or route through which replication data is transferred between sites. The Active Directory replication topology is essentially a map of Site Links.
Cost Assignment: Each Site Link has an associated cost, which is an arbitrary number assigned by the administrator. The cost represents the relative efficiency or speed of the network connection between sites. Lower-cost links are favored over higher-cost links for replication traffic. The cost affects the choice of replication partners and the sequence of replication.
Replication Schedule and Frequency: Site Links allow you to control when replication occurs and how often. This can help to manage network traffic by scheduling replication during off-peak hours or reducing the replication frequency on slower network connections.
Inter-Site Topology Generator (ISTG): The ISTG, part of the KCC, uses Site Links to determine the most efficient route for replication traffic. It uses the cost of the Site Links to generate the least cost spanning tree for replication.
Failover and Redundancy: Multiple Site Links provide redundancy and failover options. If one Site Link fails, the KCC can use an alternate Site Link for replication.
By effectively managing Site Links, administrators can control the replication traffic flow, optimize network usage, and ensure data consistency and availability across multiple sites in an Active Directory environment. Careful planning and configuration of Site Links are crucial for an efficient, reliable, and resilient Active Directory replication strategy.
Active Directory requires a network protocol for replication traffic.
Within a single site, only one protocol is used for replication. In a multiple site structure, you must select a replication protocol for replication between sites.
Protocols for intrasite replication: Remote Procedure Call (RPC)
Active Directory replication uses Remote Procedure Call (RPC) over IP for replication within a site. RPC is an industry standard protocol for client/server communications that is compatible with most types of networks. For replication within a site, RPC provides uniform, high-speed connectivity.
Protocols for Intersite Replication: RPC over IP or SMTP
When you configure replication between sites, you have a choice of replication protocol.
You must choose between RPC over IP or the Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP).
A note about SMTP SMTP is used to send mail on the Internet. SMTP is a more reliable transport, but it requires more network overhead.
Because we establish sites to conserve bandwidth, using SMTP defeats this purpose. The only good reason to use SMTP would be if you are experiencing dropped connections with RPC.
SMTP has one restriction: you can use it only for replication between domain controllers in different domains. In most cases, choose RPC over IP for replication between sites.
Active Directory Sites and Services labels the protocol for connections within a site as RCP and the protocol for connections between sites as IP. Both labels, however, mean that the connection uses RPC over IP. The only good reason to use SMTP would be if you are experiencing dropped connections with RPC. The Slide Show below describes the replication protocols for intra and inter-site replication.
In the next lesson, we will discuss the definition and roles of two additional objects that are available for replication: site links and site link bridges.
RPC over IP: Remote Procedure Call is a message-passing facility that is used for remote administration of computers. It can run over the Internet Protocol
SMTP: Simple Mail Transfer Protocol; a protocol often used for sending Internet mail, which can also be used for replication over site links in Active Directory.