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SBS 2003 to Windows 2008 Enterprise:  ADMT or Fresh Start?

Posted on 2009-04-13
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I have two choices:

Use ADMT to move Users / Workstations from a Windows SBS 2003 Domain to a new Windows 2008 Enterprise Domain w/ Exchange 2007

or

Start fresh - Create new users, join all workstations to new domain manually and then copy workstation profile / and upload Exchange Data to new mailbox.

The second choice will obviously be more time consuming, but the customer has stressed the feeling of a 'fresh start' and I tend to agree.   However, the workstation count is high (55) and doing that process will take some time.

I have a bad taste about ADMT - I have never been able to get it to work to migrate workstations with a success rate higher than 25%.  There were always issues that were difficult to troubleshoot and I ended up doing the process manually anyway.

What are the Expert opinions?

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Question by:trivalent
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by:Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE)
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I wouldn't even consider starting a-fresh! Very troublesome, lost profiles, security identifiers etc

I would do the "upgrade" route, if you don't have the confidence to do it with ADMT, test using virtual environment first.

P2V clients servers, and prove and demonstrate to you client it can be done, with very little risk.

http://www.itexpertmag.com/server/upgrading-small-business-server-2003-to-exchange-2007

The fresh start option is the more risky. But, do what you client wants you to do, if they are paying the bill. Me personlly wouldn't do a fresh start.
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by:Lee W, MVP
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The only way to do a fresh start is with a fresh start - and that means either using ADMT or manually migrating the workstations and users.  Otherwise, you'll have  more work on getting profiles in order, etc.

If there are problems with the existing structure, I can understand... but if SBS was managed appropriately, it shouldn't be a problem.  Option #3 which you did not mention is a combination - it doesn't give a true fresh start, but it migrates the workstations and users with minimal additional effort - basically, add the 2008 server a DC in the old domain - that will preserve the user accounts and computer accounts and then you can demote and remove the SBS server (once all data is transferred off of it.

Question: Why did they purchase Enterprise instead of EBS?

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by:tigermatt
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With respect, the previous poster obviously isn't aware of the restrictions imposed in an SBS environment, and the inherent issues which would be present during a migration of this scale.

55 computers is a considerable number of moving across to a new domain. Other factors would need to be taken into account, such as whether the company is spread over several geographic locations, how complex the network share folder structure and security is (and how easy it would be to re-create) and so on.

Migrating away from an SBS environment, while not a considerable issue, is something I tend to avoid using the ADMT tool for. With proper planning, you can have the old and new networks co-existing at the same time, recreating the user/computer accounts and migrating workstations across slowly to the new network. You may find you improve admin productivity too by starting afresh, as none of the potential issues caused by migrating away from SBS will be present after the migration.

One point of note: for the migration route, you do NOT need any form of transition pack; if anybody says you do, they have been misinformed. Even if you installed the new servers into the same domain as the SBS and migrated roles across, you would still require no transition pack if you were planning on removing the SBS server at the end of the procedure.

-Matt
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by:tigermatt
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A clarification: I was referring to http:#a24132665.
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by:DrUltima
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Having gone both ways, I would not want to do a fresh start again.  ADMT works well when you "play by the rules", and even if you have to do some cleanup, it won't be nearly as intensive as a fresh install...
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by:trivalent
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Some answers:

Question: Why did they purchase Enterprise instead of EBS?


Their network is getting larger, and they wanted to move away from SBS Restrictions.

55 computers is a considerable number of moving across to a new domain. Other factors would need to be taken into account, such as whether the company is spread over several geographic locations, how complex the network share folder structure and security is (and how easy it would be to re-create) and so on.

The workstations are in the same general geographic location.  Different buildings within walking distance.   The existing network share structure security is minimal - would not be difficult to re-create.   Helpers are available during the cut over time to change workstation information.

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by:Lee W, MVP
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NOTE: I said EBS, not SBS.  Enterprise is EXPENSIVE.  EBS is a little more expensive, but you get MUCH more with it.

EBS - restriction is 300 users - plus you get significant discounts and management abilities with System Center Essentials, 2 Exchange Server licenses, 3 server licenses, two DCs, and features like RWW.
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tigermatt earned 500 total points
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I'd agree with LeeW in that EBS would perhaps have been more appropriate, but it would appear you have purchased your licenses already, so we're not going to change that :-)

Having performed a migration by which we used the ADMT, I'd suggest you go down the route of recreating the user and computer accounts and migrating the data across. We migrated a network of 2000 users and 500 computers by doing the migration "manually" in the space of a week or so, and it was largely a success. It greatly eliminated the potential issues involved in migrating objects between domains and so on.

-Matt
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by:trivalent
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We migrated a network of 2000 users and 500 computers by doing the migration "manually" in the space of a week or so, and it was largely a success. It greatly eliminated the potential issues involved in migrating objects between domains and so on.

Was there any technique that you used that you would like to share?   I am not aware of any other method of creating computer accounts other than joining the workstation to the new domain.
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by:tigermatt
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We migrated user accounts by performing a standard csvde export from one domain, modifying the output slightly in Excel as necessary, then re-importing to the new domain, again using csvde.

The creation of the computer accounts was performed as you described; simply during the process of joining the machine to the new domain. We used the resetcmp tool to set the default container in Active Directory to our main 'Computers' OU, so the accounts were in a suitable location to inherit GPOs immediately, prior to the accounts being reshuffled in Active Directory.

Some stations were re-imaged using Acronis True Image Deploy I believe, but the majority were simply joined to the new network. If the main network and domain infrastructure of the new network is in place and tested prior to migrating, the movement should be relatively seemless from one domain to another. For rejoining PCs, there was a scripted approach we trialled which made use of netdom to drop from the domain and rejoin to the new one in a relatively automated way; I don't have a copy of the script to hand to pass to you though.

-Matt
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by:trivalent
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How about a swing migration to 2008  with Exchange 2007?  Saves the time of touching workstations for the most part.


http://www.sbsmigration.com/
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by:tigermatt
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That's the other option, but you won't need that kit. All you'd need to do is install your new servers into the SBS domain, and promote them as additional domain controllers. Migrate Exchange and all other roles as per usual, but leave the FSMO roles on the SBS Server.

Once you are happy everything is migrated off the SBS, transfer the FSMO roles off to one of the new DCs, and demote the SBS (dcpromo wizard). The SBS will then be off the domain - but would need rebuilding with Server 2003/2008 Standard if you wanted to re-use it.

-Matt
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