Migrating or Building a new Win 2003 Network from a NT 4.0 network.

I've got a network that currently has just 1 NT 4.0 server (PDC) there are no BDC's on the network.  There are less then 100 users on the network.  They are running Exchange 5.5 on the server.  The server is old and does not have much disk space left on it.

I bought 3 new servers from Dell.  I want to create a 2003 Network using Exchange 2003.  

Should I attempt to do a migration or just build a new network and leave the Windows NT 4.0 machine out of the mix?  How would I then get the Exchange 5.5 data over to the new 2003 network exchange server?  

The clients consist of Windows 98, and Windows XP.  

If I choose to create a new network I would need to keep the domain name the same as it is currently.  How would I ensure that the profiles that the client computers (mainly the XP Machines) continue to use the same profile and not attempt to creat a new profile for the user?

Any and all relevent ideas and links to resources would be greatly appreciated.  

Dr. Scott L. Dorsey
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Install NT4 BDC as you would any other BDC. Don't try to preempt what the Windows 2003 install will require - the upgrade wizard will do that. If you don't use DNS internally at the moment (using ISP DNS servers or something else) then don't put the option in.

You could do the upgrade offline using one of the desktops I outlined above. You will need to allow additional time for domain replication as the changes will be replicated later once the server is online.

If you wanted to do it that way... I would adjust my plan to include promoting one of the temp machines to a PDC. Then take it off the network and upgrade it. If the upgrade gone to plan then reintroduce it to the network.
Personally I would do it online. This doesn't appear to be a very big network and as long as you take your time with each stage, checking everything is working correctly it should go through correctly. The backup domain controller on the other desktop provides a safety net in case something does go wrong.

Your requirement to retain the existing domain name and profiles rules out building a new network.
Therefore you will have to upgrade the existing one.

A rough plan to do the initial upgrade I have outlined below. I haven't included much detail as I am believer in the "teach a man to fish" rather than "give him a bucket of fish". Information on the exact stages of the upgrade can be found on the Microsoft web site in their white papers.

You will need two machines that you can install NT4 on. These can be anything, from VMWARE to old desktops. They will not remain in production for very long, so don't have to be the best thing available.
You will also need at least one machine that can run Windows 2003 to act as a new domain controller.
Do not attempt this in one weekend, or in one go. It is a complex process that actually requires some waiting around. Unless I am against the clock I will spread the entire process over about three weekends.

1. Build both of the temp machines as NT4 BDCs and add them to the existing network.
Leave them at least overnight to replicate everything.
2. Take one of these BDCs and isolate it - power it down and disconnecting it from the network is enough. This is your backup in case things go wrong.
3. Promote the other machine to PDC. This will turn the existing machine in to a BDC. Again wait a little while for everything to replicate.
4. Carry out an inplace upgrad eon the new PDC to Windows 2003. This will turn your domain in to a Windows 2003 mixed.
5. Build one of the new servers as Windows 2003 and add it to the domain. This should NOT be the machine that is going to run Exc hange. Exchange 2003 is a lot happier on a member server and should be kept that way.
6. DCPROMO this new Windows 2003 machine in to the domain so it become a DC.
7. Transfer all FSMO roles to this new machine, also making it a Global Catalog.
8. DCPROMO out the upgraded machine. Reboot. Drop it in to a workgroup (to remove it from the domain) and then wipe.

The network is now ready to take Exchange 2003. There are a ton of resources at Microsoft on doing the Exchange 5.5 to 2003 upgrade which I don't want to repeat here. That is actually quite an easy process. Basically once you have introduced Exchange 2003 to the network you can replicate the public and system data across, before moving the mailboxes using the Microsoft tools.

You should start here for the documentation: http://www.microsoft.com/technet/prodtechnol/exchange/2003/upgrade.mspx
There is more than enough content there to answer most questions.

For the Windows 2003 migration, you should start here: http://www.microsoft.com/resources/documentation/WindowsServ/2003/all/deployguide/en-us/default.asp
You may also want to look at this guide for an NT4 migration:

Any questions, please post back.
DrScott35Author Commented:
Thank you very much for answering Simon...  Should I install the new NT 4.0 server that will become the PDC with DNS or wait until I've done the upgrade to 2003 on it?  Also, for clarification, should I keep the old PDC now the BDC on the network as I begin the upgrade process, I believe I should if I want to capture the Exchange data off of that server...  But I just want to make sure I'm doing it correctly and not jumping the gun.  Someone else told me to take it off the network and wait until later before bringing it back online.  Is there any benefit in waiting or keeping it in place throughout the upgrade of the other machine?  

Thanks again for your help with this,
Dr. Scott L. Dorsey
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