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Exchange 2000 migrate to Exchange 2003

I have 3 domains, each in different site, and each is having an Administrative Group. And connected through SMTP connector to HQ site.
We want to upgrade to Exchange 2003 Enterprise, I want to know the best way for migrating with minimum downtime required, and if it is prefered to have a 2003 DC in each site and the forest or NO.

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1 Solution
There are several ways which you can go about it.
The first thing I would do is suggest reading the Upgrade documentation at www.microsoft.com/exchange/library  as well as KB822931 (support.microsoft.com/kb/822931), and http://www.microsoft.com/technet/prodtechnol/exchange/2003/upgrade.mspx

I highly suggest testing your upgrade path in a lab that closely mirrors your production environment.  Microsoft's Virtual Server is free to many organizations, as it VMWare's Server.  Check with your licensing folks to validate this.  Anyway, virtual servers work well.  You will want to test at least one piece of hardware.

It sounds like you want to move from 3 servers in 3 Administrative groups to a single Exchange server.  I assume that these are all in the same forest and Exchange Organization, but on different domains.  That is plenty fine.  I do recommend that you consider going to a front-end/back-end scenario, but it is not necessary.

A DC in each site is good since users will be performing GC lookups locally, versus across the wire.

There are a few solutions that can provide minimal downtime, provided you are going from 3 servers to 1.  This is one I prefer (my directions are a bit rough as they are off the hip)
1 - Swing server method.
This is where you implement your new Exchange 2003 server, get it configured, burned in, tested, etc. and move mailboxes to it.
Make sure that your Active Directory and Exchange backups are valid.
Consider a a small bit of housekeeping...account cleanup, touching base with users regarding removal of non-business files, such as non-business audio and video files, archiving e-mail in larger mailboxes.
Perform the ForestPrep and DomainPrep and keep an eye on the event logs.
Chances are your HQ is the First Administrative Group.
Install the new Exchange 2003 server into that admin group.
Run Exchange Best Practices Analyzer and Exchange Performance Troubleshooting Analyzer on the new server.  This provides some great feedback and it provides for a baseline.
Add it to the routing group connectors between admin groups/routing groups and add it to the SMTP connector(s), where appropriate.
Test routing.
Ensure that the IP address for that server, if it is NATted, is NATted properly and has an appropriate A record, MX record, and PTR record.
Test routing again.
Create test mailboxes on the other servers, populate them with some mail, and then test moving them to different admin groups.
Start synching public folders, including system folders.
Backup your mailbox (export to .pst) and start testing mailbox moves with administrator's mailboxes.  See what Outlook does and document it for the users.  The MAPI folder redirect should take very little time once the mailbox has been moved and the changes have replicated.
Perform a pilot migration of a few users per site (no more than 10% of your users if you have a small 10-20 person site).  It is best to do this at night to ensure that the load and impact is minimized.
I highly suggest using Outlook 2003 in cached Exchange mode.  The only issue I tend to have with it is the Offline Address Book only generates once per day.  I generally set this to 2 times per day in environments where user information is changed in Active Directory on a frequent basis.
Continue to move users at night and assist them in the morning.
Monitor the event logs and server performance.
It does not hurt to run ExBPA and ExPTA again.
Continue following the guidance in the migration guides and KB822931.
Prepare the old servers for decommissioning.
Decom the old servers.

gupisoneAuthor Commented:
Thanks flyguybob,

But adding a 2003 server as DC, will make the domain environment mixed.
Is there any risk in doing that?
if not, should I make them as GC?

1 - It is possible to run Exchange 2003 on a Windows 2000 AD environment or even an AD environment with Windows 2000/2000 AD.  It's your call regarding what to do, but it does not matter on the Exchange side.  It's not mixed as in E5.5/2000 or E5.5/2003 or AD2000/2003.

2 - If you can make a DC a GC, definitely do so as it will help keep the GC lookups local to that site/subnet, provided the subnet and site have been configured.

3 - Avoid installing Exchange on a domain controller.  If you get the itch to do this, consider using Virtual Server or VMWare and install the domain controller as a Virtual machine.  In a small environment this does not take much overhead.

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