Posted on 2007-03-23
Here's the scenario (names changed to protect the guilty / details altered for clarity, etc.) I recently picked up a new client who's previous IT guy set them up with a severely misconfigured and inadequate 2003 SBS solution. The problem really boils down to hardware and there's just no way the current box can handle the job. They have 20 workstations joined to \\SERVER and in an overnight process I need to down the box, replace it with another (totally different) box, but still have the new box named \\SERVER and NOT have to make any adjustments to any of the workstations. In other words, I need a process to "forklift" the server itself out of the network and replace it with another one in a "seamless" way that accomplishes the following goals:
1) The workstations must not even be aware that the server they are seeing in the morning is not the same one they saw the previous evening. No adjustments to any workstation can be done. (The entire point of this is to make sure I have a solution that can be completely resolved from the server room.)
2) The old server must be "downed" without modifications of any kind. No "migration off" of any roles or such. (I need to be able to down it, work on setting up the new one all night if needed and still be able to choose to NOT deploy the new box at the last minute if I find it isn't ready at 9 AM the next morning.)
Just to be up-front with everyone here, I am aware that 2003 SBS is a very different product than 2003 Server and has some (apparently very severe) limitations in this area, so I'm only looking for solutions to this problem as described, not "use 2003 Server Enterprise Edition" or "migrate the client to Linux/Samba" etc. I'm already considering those as ultimate solutions, so I'm only asking the experts here for a solution that WON'T make me do a complete rebuild of all the elements of the network. Having said that, I should clarify that I certainly AM open to solutions that accomplish #1 & #2 even if the new server isn't 2003 SBS. In other words, if the desktop user still can be authenticated, see their mapped drives & get their shared contacts/calendar in Outlook, etc. I'd be open to a solution that is a Linux box "pretending" to be the 2003 SBS box it replaces (including the Exchange functions, etc.). Again, I'm willing to do pretty much *whatever* in the server room as long as the workstations go on their merry way after the process blissfully unaware that there's been any change at all.
My experience so far has been basically that SBS is something of a "roach motel" where "you can check in, but you can't check out" situation. I haven't had to deal with this in awhile and the last time I just chose to leave the domain on the workstations, rebuild/replace the server, then join the domain again. (Even though the domain was the same name...) It was a huge hassle, and that was a much smaller network. With as many workstations as I'm looking at this time, that strategy would be a complete nightmare.
Additionally, I'm aware of sbsmigration.com already. While I'm open to using that, for the scope of this question here at Experts Exchange (and given the number of points I've put on this question) I'm looking for a fairly specific set of steps describing how someone has done this in the past, not a link to a manual I can buy that I'm already aware of, or a link to a consultant I can hire who knows more than I do. (I may well find that buying either or both of those is my best solution in the end, but I don't really think it's reasonable to expect me to award a lot of points for a "product referral" and not an "actual solution" here.)