Rebuild Active Directory advice- have new servers

the decision has been made to rebuild my Active Directory at one of my sites, and I need some advice on the steps to take. Here's my current setup:

One 2K3 server running Exchange 2k3, on an older Dell PowerEdge tower. It holds the A.D. and it's primary functions are Exchange, and storing data that is sync'd across two separate T1 VPN's (managed by Verizon/MCI). The two remote sites just have a pc that uses Outlook, and gets data sync'd between them, using the server as the repository. I just bought three new Dell servers- 2 2850's, 1 1850. I think I'll use the 1850 for storage/backups/sync, and a 2850 as the DC running Exchange, and the extra one as a hot spare. I plan to image the 2850 everynight (Symantec LiveState) in case it goes down. Down time is not negotiable!! Which leads me to my question:

What's the best way to get this done? Mail cannot be down for more than a couple hours during ONE day! (probably Saturday or Sunday) I believe I have to recreate the Exchange database-? There's 4 user accounts that are moderately used, a few others used only as aliases for subscriptions etc. that are forwarded to the primary mail account. Total mailbox size is about 1 Gig. I've never done an Exchange rebuild so don't know what that entails.

I have about a month to get this done, so I'm trying to lay out all the steps in advance so I know what kind of downtime is realistic. Thanks in advance for hints or tips! And sorry if I left out any important details.

Trevor LocalAsked:
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Lee W, MVPConnect With a Mentor Technology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
How large are these sites?

Have you considered using virtual server?  Microsoft seems to think it's good for just about anything - to me, I'd use it for AD and various network services (DNS/DHCP/Etc) as well as "lesser" services like WSUS.

How exactly are you syncing things?  And what exactly are you syncing?
Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
First, while it CAN be done, it is NOT recommended that you put exchange on a domain controller.

Second, why are you planning on rebuilding the AD at the existing site?  Why not just add a domain controller?
Trevor LocalAuthor Commented:
I've had a couple consultants look at it, and they both decided it best to rebuild. Strange things happen and don't happen- and I'd like to start from scratch. Things like not being able to rename the admin account, or change it's password. Real funky stuff. It works, but I'd prefer a clean A.D.

How would you use the hardware I have?

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Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
Which box (1850/2850) depends on what kind of loads these boxes see, I'll let you decide, but I'd break up the services like this:

New box:  Storage/Backups/Sync
New box:  DC
New box:  Exchange

OR, if you want a hot spare server (not sure how you're doing that with different model servers to start with)

New box:  Storage/Backups/Sync
New box:  Hot Spare
New box:  Exchange
Old box:  DC

How do you make the old box a DC without screwing up the system for longer than two hours?  Use another PC or virtual PC.  Setup the domain on that.  Then, once everything is migrated over, wipe the old box and make it a DC.  Transfer the FSMO roles and GC to the new DC on the old box and get rid of the temp DC.
Trevor LocalAuthor Commented:
I have another office that I just bought a 2850 for, so I'd use one 2850 as a spare for either site. That was my motivation for buying an "extra" one.  That site will have the new 2850, plus a similar older PowerEdge. I'm trying to minimize any downtime if the server goes down, as both site are extremely demanding!

Trevor LocalAuthor Commented:
site 1: corp office
about 15 people. mostly doing accounting. 1 server doing everything right now.

site 2: owner of corp office, and a bunch of other businesses
two remote sites are his houses in Midwest and San Diego, sites also in San Diego. Just sync'ing his documents/favorites and MOST important, his stock trading data (the whole reason I have this job!- and I inherited this whole setup, and it's taken me a year to get the new equipment)
I'm using a prog. called SmartSync Pro to handle the sync. Each remote pc sync's with the server.

So I bought 3 2850's and 1 1850. (all dual core, dual processor, 3 Gig RAM).

dooleydogConnect With a Mentor Commented:
I would build a parallel AD structure, and then migrate. IT sounds like you have several strange issues that this would take care of, and it will allow you to make sure there aren't any secret "back doors" left by the previous "wizard"...

ADMT - Active directory Migration Tool - it is great, and all you need is a trust and the admin password.

I agree, Exchange should probably not go on a DC, if you can help it.

Good Luck,

Trevor LocalAuthor Commented:
sounds good to me.
thanks for the input.
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