Windows 2003 Migration, in a Nutshell

Reader wants the simplest path to upgrade to Windows Server 2003 and Exchange 2003.

Question: We're thinking of moving into a Windows Server 2003 environment. Currently, we're running Windows 2000 along with Exchange 2000.

I have two scenarios for doing the upgrade, and I'm trying to decide which one would be the most beneficial for the company. We're going to work out any bugs in the lab by installing a new Windows Server 2003 domain and new Exchange 2003 servers.

Once we're done testing, my boss wants me to join this lab domain to the production domain and then upgrade the production domain. I'd like to work out the bugs in the lab, as well, but then I'd like to upgrade the production domain rather than merge it with the lab domain. Am I being too careful?

Also, we're thinking of deploying Outlook 2003 at the same time as the Exchange 2003 upgrade. Should we wait until we've finished the deployment or do both jobs at the same time?
— Wilson

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Answer: The sequence of events outlined by your boss has one fatal flaw: You can't "join" one Active Directory domain to another regardless of the Windows Server version you're running. There is no merge and purge capability in Active Directory.

To introduce the lab domain into production, you would have to migrate all user, group and computer accounts to the lab domain and re-permission all servers and do other work involving desktop profiles and so forth. That's too much work for a simple e-mail migration.

Here's a sequence of operations that would get you to your goal of upgrading the production domain:

  1. Make sure that all your applications (including but not limited to antivirus, antispam, backup agents, monitoring agents) and storage interfaces (SCSI, SAN, NAS, iSCSI) work with Windows Server 2003 and Exchange Server 2003. Windows 2003 includes quite a few security upgrades, so make sure you test any applications that rely on Windows authentication.
  2. Apply the Inetorgperson hotfix as described in Knowledge Base article 314649, "Windows Server 2003 adprep /forestprep Command Causes Mangled Attributes in Windows 2000 Forests That Contain Exchange 2000 Servers";en-us;314649.
  3. Run Windows 2003 forestprep and domainprep.
  4. Introduce a new Windows 2003 domain controller in production.
  5. Migrate the remaining domain controllers to Windows 2003. Don't upgrade existing DCs. Demote, reformat and reinstall.
  6. Run Exchange 2003 forestprep and domainprep.
  7. Install the new Exchange 2003 servers. Once again, don't upgrade the existing Exchange 2000 servers. You get the best mix of performance and security by installing newly configured servers.
  8. Move mailboxes, connectors and public folders to the Exchange 2003 servers. The improved, multithreaded "Move Mailbox" feature in Exchange 2003 will help speed the transition, and there's a public folder migration utility in the suite of tools associated with Exchange 2003 SP1 that helps to migrate public folders.
  9. Decommission the Exchange 2000 servers. This is relatively straightforward. Once you're sure that you've moved all the public folders and mailboxes, take it off the wire for a few days to make sure you got everything, then put it back on the wire and remove Exchange using Add/Remove Programs. This removes the server from the Organization.

As for the Outlook 2003 deployment, you can do the work any time that's convenient for users. Outlook will determine the new location of the user's mailbox following a move, so there's no reason why you can't start the Outlook 2003 upgrade today. You won't get all the cool benefits (MAPI compression, drizzle downloads) until you upgrade to Exchange 2003, but you won't hurt your current Exchange servers by using Outlook 2003.

About the Author

Contributing Editor Bill Boswell, MCSE, is the principal of Bill Boswell Consulting, Inc. He's the author of Inside Windows Server 2003 and Learning Exchange Server 2003 both from Addison Wesley. Bill is also Redmond magazine's "Windows Insider" columnist and a speaker at MCP Magazine's TechMentor Conferences.