Primary Domain Controller + DNS + DHCP + File Server - Virtualize VMWare

Currently have our Primary Domain Controller on a Physical Dell PE2650, it is also our Primary DNS, DHCP, Active Directory and File Server on Server 2003.  Looking to do clean install on VM to upgrade PDC to Server 2008 R2, keep as DNS, DHCP, AD only. Then demote the physical domain controller, format and do new install of Server 2008 and only have it has backup domain controller.  Also would be creating new File server on 2nd new VM on Server 2008 R2.  

Our secondary DC at the site is also an Exchange Server 2003/DNS server.  We are planning on getting a new Dell PowerEdge Server and only having it as a stand alone, no domain controller. Perhaps create a 3rd VM just as a DNS server.

Are the steps above appropriate to take? What should I look out for? I'm concerned about the migration from 2003 to 2008 from a physical to virtual environment.
Who is Participating?
I wear a lot of hats...

"The solutions and answers provided on Experts Exchange have been extremely helpful to me over the last few years. I wear a lot of hats - Developer, Database Administrator, Help Desk, etc., so I know a lot of things but not a lot about one thing. Experts Exchange gives me answers from people who do know a lot about one thing, in a easy to use platform." -Todd S.

You are on the right track as far as starting with a "clean" VM. Once created, promote it as a DC. Make sure you follow the steps to upgrade your domain to 2K8:

Once a DC, transfer all roles from 2K3 server to 2K8. Make your DNS AD-integrated, as well. I would not recommend combining Exchg with DC...separate them. If you place enough RAM in your server, you will have enough resources to do this.

Here are some good 'consideration' articles regarding virtualizing DCs and Exchg. BTW...I have both virtualized in my environment and running very well. :)



Also, check your hardware against VMware's Compatibility:

Lastly, if you don't have one, make one of your DCs an authoritative time server ( and make sure your VMs point to it (unselect in VMware Tools to sync with ESX host).


Experts Exchange Solution brought to you by

Your issues matter to us.

Facing a tech roadblock? Get the help and guidance you need from experienced professionals who care. Ask your question anytime, anywhere, with no hassle.

Start your 7-day free trial
fireguy1125Author Commented:
Thanks cool sounds great.  We have our exchange currenty as a DC, the new exchange one will NOT be a DC.

I have 9 other domain controller at remote sites that are using 2003.  Would I have to upgrade these to 2008 when I make the PDC at 2008 server, or will I be good keeping them 2003?
That's good (ir: separating Exchg & DC) :)

Now remember, ever since domain 2K, PDC & BDC went away. It's more about "FSMO roles" now. Here are a couple more MS KBs on W2K8:

Basically, 2K8 is like can have 2K3 DCs still in the domain. MS's documentation re: 2K8 isn't fully prepared (per this URL:, then at the bottom, see "Resources coming soon"). You'd think they'd have their documentation out by now. Anyway, I can't comment from domain is still 2K3. The only thing about having dual version DCs is, if 2K8 is like 2K3, you have to run your domain in mixed mode, not native. For more clarification on AD info, you can post a question in the Active Directory EE Zone. :)

Hope that helps though...

It's more than this solution.Get answers and train to solve all your tech problems - anytime, anywhere.Try it for free Edge Out The Competitionfor your dream job with proven skills and certifications.Get started today Stand Outas the employee with proven skills.Start learning today for free Move Your Career Forwardwith certification training in the latest technologies.Start your trial today

From novice to tech pro — start learning today.