Exchange 5.5 to 2003 migration

Posted on 2006-11-17
Last Modified: 2010-03-06
I have a NT4 / exchange 5.5 server with around 70 users and need to migrate this to a new 2003 server.
I have read articles on the ADC connector etc but have a few questions...

Should new new Win/Exchange 2003 server be setup on a new domain or connect it to the NT4 domain??

about 50 ish mailboxes are all remote sites and I need to be able to set it up in a way that it is transparent. The remote sites have outlook 2000 and use offline files/synchronise folders etc. I need to make sure that I can do either of the following :

option 1.
Migrate a few sites at a time - dial in and re-configure outlook and re-setup their offline folders

option 2. (preferred if possible)
Migrate sites few at a time but no need to resetup the offline folders.

Has anyone seen a good detailed migration document?

Got to purchase the new server this week and looking to do it the next week or so.

Question by:sarmario
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Author Comment

ID: 17963630
I still need some help to decide on the best way to go - I cannot see whether it is possible to keep the offline folder information on the clients so that they do not need re-setting up.
Do I have to reconnect machines connected to the old NT4 domain to the "new" AD domain - or can this be done transparently.
It's this first time I have had to do a migration - I normally try and go for frsh install where possible as it is far easier and cleaner!

LVL 14

Expert Comment

ID: 17963652
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Expert Comment

ID: 17963717
Some thoughts:
If you want to move to Exchange Server 2003, you will need to implement an Active Directory environment first, either by upgrading your NT4 domain ("easy" way) or by setting up a new independent infrastructure (migration track, more complicated), in which you will place your Exchange 2003 machine.

The same goes for Exchange: you will either upgrade the 5.5 organization or setup a new org to which you will need to migrate your Exchange data. Upgrading the 5.5 org will at the end mean less work where Outlook client configuration is concerned (which version?): when you move a mailbox from 5.5 to 2003 and the OL clients connects 5.5, it will automatically redirected to the Exchange 2003 server. That is not the case if you choose to create a new org: reconfigiration of the clients will be required (you can automate this by sing PRF files, but nevertheless it will require additional testing/preparation.

Your client machines can of course connect to an Exchange server that is sitting in another domain, but you understand some trusts need to be setup, permissions need to be correct, your clients need to be able to find the new server (name resolution).


Author Comment

ID: 17963740
I am not worried about creating a new "clean" organisation - just want the easiest solution which will allow me to migrate the users over the course of a couple of weeks if possible; keeping the re-configuration of clients to a minimum; re-creating offline folders would be a pain as the remote site are on dial-up.

LVL 104

Expert Comment

ID: 17964882
With a lot of remote users I would probably look to upgrade what you have. By upgrade I mean new machines in the existing domain, not in place upgrades.

Do the domain first, as that can be painful. For NT4 to AD domains I usually build a BDC on a workstation somewhere, then make it the PDC. Wait for a day or so for the DCs to sync. Then install Windows 2003 on to that machine which will upgrade the domain.
You can then build fresh domain controllers straight to Windows 2003, and at some point drop the upgraded machine. That provides you with clean built DCs rather than having an in place upgraded machine in production.
The NT to AD upgrade is the only time I in place upgrade.

Once done, you can then look at the Exchange migration.

Treat the two parts separately - do the domain first then Exchange. Don't attempt to do them both in one go as you will cause yourself problems. Give the domain enough time to settle before moving on to the next stage, and yourself enough time to become familiar with the setup.

When it comes to the Exchange move, as long as both the old and the new servers are running at the same time with Exchange installed, the clients will redirect automatically to the new server. You shouldn't have to touch the remote clients.


Author Comment

ID: 18097569
Just to give everyone an update..... I decided to do the following (bit of a fudge!)
Setup new 2003 server on new domain/forest
Setup users on new server with same username/password
Reconfigure Email accounts on All remote PC's

"fingers crossed" seems to be working ok. Remote sites only use dial up networking so domain memebership is not really an issue.


... managed to make a CD which changes outlook settings, and hacks registry entries for extra dial-up entries in outlook with newprof.exe cannot do. Complete with an autorun and vb app for them to click.


Author Comment

ID: 18126582
My CD did not work correctly - even after testing on a few PC's I had back in the office.... plan "b" - ring all remote sites and take control of each machine and reconfigure worked if a little long winded (4 days with 2 people on it!!!)

Hopefully next time my directors will allow me more testing time so I can do the job "properly".


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