corp offices merging- win sbs2003, win server 2k

i have a situation where 5 buisness are merging covering 9 sites

here is what they have in place

office 1= win 2k3 sbs, not enough machine to work the whole network and also sbs is a pain in the a** to work with licensing wise and multi server enviroment
office 2= win server 2k
office 3= win server 2k
office 4= dos based legacy app server
office 5= dos based legacy app server

what we are trying to do initially is get them on a centralized email system and common domain.  then we will implement a new practice management suite to get everyone on the same software.  all sites will need to have access to their existing servers and software independantly to work out their accounts recievables for usually about 1 year.  i am trying to be able to avoid rebuilding the sbs server into a 2k3 standard, but also realize this is a distinct possibility.

thanks in advance,
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EricIT ManagerCommented:
assuming they all have domains.. get them to 2003 and try the tool that can rename domains.. move forests etc..  
besides that good luck.. you have your hands full with that mess! :)
EricIT ManagerCommented:
and i agree about sbs.  i hate stupid limitations.   2003 is supposed to be better.. i dont know.  2000 was painful.
Since you post your question in the MS Networking group I will assume for now you will continue using MS Windows and Exchange Server. The Exchange bit is what's probably going to bite you, because to make communication, roaming, access control (the works) easy you will need to consolidate to one AD forest sooner or later.

This is the reason everybody's shouting "2003", because that enables you to establish cross-forest trusts and migration capabilities.

These scenario's usually require migrating resources to another installation first, then make sure you can move around workstations between two domains without breaking functionality, and then gradually removing the old resources from the network.

However, whether you need to invest a lot of time and money into *migrating* depends on the size of the sites. SBS 2003 supports a maximum of 75 clients (but I'll take it for now that such a site doesn't run one server). A site running, say, 10-15 workstations can easily be re-configured to join a new domain in a new forest, and you can still have access to resources through legacy domain trusts.

Yes, you will be recreating user-accounts and passwords, and you will be re-assigning security to the file server. If that's not an option, you will probably have to contract somebody with some real migration experience or things will go horribly wrong.

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Also, see Comment #1... I don't suggest "trying" the tool that can rename domains.

On your corporate network, you can use it only once.

If you want to do it yourself, get yourself a bad-ass machine with 2 GB of RAM and VMWare Workstation. Setup 4-5 servers (Win2000 and 2003) and TEST everything before applying any changes to your corporate network. Know what you're doing. Use it to restore backups of your CURRENT environment:
a) to get a working setup to start with
b) so you will be sure you know your steps work in YOUR environment
c) you know you have a working backup.
EricIT ManagerCommented:
Why are you against it?   I used it in a lab running VM as you mentioned. IT worked well.

no solution is easy.. I just think it saves some reentry time.   my senerio was not this complex though either.
I'm not against the tool, it's there for a reason. But the 'try' part suggested just running the exe and see where it ends. That doesn't sound like a good idea, use it in a lab environment first.
EricIT ManagerCommented:
oh right.. i agree.
Or on a weekend when some downtime for a restore is possible... I guess I assume that portion as this is a person manageing a pretty complex envrionment.

I am probably going to use it to try and move a seperate domain into our forest.  I may get a consultant to help though as i dont have much time
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