Technology is ever-changing. New pieces of technology arrive on our doorsteps almost daily, often replacing old or outdated items. The race is always on for the fastest processors, the highest pixel counts, the safest cars, and smartphones with screens as big as my head. You get the idea. This is as true in the Microsoft-driven data center as it is in consumer electronics. With every new version of the Windows operating system, both client and server, we see parts and pieces come and go. Out with the old, in with the new, as they say. To give you some examples, it wasn't very many years ago that we were talking about things such as IPv6, Network Access Protection (NAP), and Windows Vista as the latest and greatest things since sliced bread. As technology progresses, so does our mentality about what is important. IPv6 is still a thing, obviously, but it's no longer the topic that everyone is telling doom and gloom stories about. Almost nobody uses it inside their networks, because it's simply not as critically important as everyone thought, and IPv4 networks are still working just fine (before you get huffy with me, remember that I said inside the network). NAP was a terrific idea, I still think so, but nobody took the time to learn and implement it, and so it is officially dead. And Windows Vista? I don't feel like I need to throw many words around here. Suffice to say that my Vista installer disk is safely tucked away, right next to my installation disc for Windows ME.
Turning things around, what are the topics we drool over today? It seems like marketing teams are still drawn to any and every way to use the word "cloud". In addition to that, we are starting to add some terminology such as software-defined networking and hyperconverged infrastructure. We don't even bother with giving new versions of Windows cool names anymore. Starting with Windows 7, operating system names got ultra boring. Now we're not even progressing beyond Windows 10, but just tagging numbers on the end, like 1709, 1803, and 1809.
Am I ever going to get round to actually making a point? It's possible. My entire thought process here is simply that Microsoft technologies come, and Microsoft technologies go. However, and this is a big however, there are some bits of the Windows Server operating system that have become so commonplace, so essential to the way that we do IT business, that when we think about them, we can't fathom that they would ever disappear or be replaced. These are often referred to as the "core infrastructure" pieces inside a Microsoft-driven data center. You can probably name these as well as I can, and maybe even add a few more. The things I'm talking about here are things like Active Directory Domain Services (ADDS), Domain Name System (DNS), and, you guessed it, Group Policy.
This book is all about Group Policy. This means that naturally, this book is also all about Active Directory and the core infrastructure services, because Group Policy is so ingrained in Active Directory that you cannot have one without the other. Group Policy is a management technology that has been around and built into our Windows Servers for a very, very long time. Being one of the core infrastructure technologies and so tightly integrated with AD, I expect that Group Policy is one of those few items in the Server operating system that will outlive our IT careers. I fully expect to see Group Policy continue to be utilized in Microsoft environments 10 or even 20 years down the road.
Group Policy is one of the most important and, at the same time, one of the most under-utilized pieces of Microsoft technology that has ever existed. Perhaps this is not the case for your company, but I have a fairly unique day job that allows me to interact with new IT departments on a daily basis, and I often get a glimpse into how much (or how little) said company is using Group Policy in order to manage their users and devices. The sad truth is that many are hardly scratching the surface of what this technology can do for them, and these folks spend unnecessary time, money, and effort trying to accomplish tasks in a less efficient manner.