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Exchange 2003 to 2010 transition w/CISCO unified messaging

Greetings fellow experts!

I am looking for some insight to what might possibly be my biggest project yet in my career as an IT professional. My current organization of 330 employees is looking to upgrade their current Exchange 2003 server to Exchange 2010. My understanding of this process involves co-existing the 03 server with 10 and then transitioning from the 03 box to the 10 box. We also currently utilize Cisco's Unified Messaging (Unity) on a separate box that integrates into the current Exchange 2003 organization. As a good chunk of the technical stuff is still somewhat new to me, I will try and be as detailed and specific as possible as I outline my questions in hopes someone can guide me in the best direction possible.

1.) We currently are on Unity v4.3.2 on a separate physical box. We will have to purchase a new Unity server as our current one is not support by CISCO TAC. We also need the newer versions of Unity v7.0 or v8.0 in order to go to Exchange 2010. With that being said, after we upgrade Unity to 7 or 8 how easily will it still integrate into the current Exchange 2003 environment before we begin the co-existing?

2.) When we complete the co-existing of the new Exchange 2010 server, which server becomes the Front-End server and which becomes the Back-End server? (if my terminology is correct here)

3.) While co-existing the 2 servers, which one will CISCO Unity now deliver the voice messages to? (FE, BE, both?)

4.) Once the transition is complete, how do we remove the Exchange 2003 server from the organization?

Again I apologize if I am butchering some terminology here. Since this will more than likely become an ongoing discussion until I am comfortable with a solution, I will appropriately give out points to as many people as I can who actively help me on finding a solid game plan for this transition. Also, if I am missing some important steps or best practices please feel free to let me know as I want to make sure I am fully prepared for what is to come and there are no surprises. Thanks!!
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Dark_Helmet
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Dark_Helmet
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RobertPartenCommented:
I have done three of these moves already and while long and drawn out they are possible. First, how many Exchange servers do you have in your organization right now? I will work with you throughout this entire project if you want to.
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Dark_HelmetAuthor Commented:
It looks like you just might be my savior my friend!

We currently only have 1 Exchange server in our organization. It is Exchange 2003 Enterprise SP2 hosted on Windows Server 2003 R2 SP2. Our mailbox store is currently 197GB (bad practice I know) and we have purchased Exchange 2010 standard w/ 550 user CALS (my understanding of its licensing meets and or exceeds our current organizations needs; wont need more than 5 mailbox stores and unified messaging will be hosted on a separate server with Exchange integration)
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RobertPartenCommented:
Easy stuff my friend, I am actually writing up documentation on the procedure for it. Active Directory IS NOT no the same box I hope?

Otherwise, I modeled my documentation off this guide.

http://msexchangegeek.com/2010/01/30/rapid-transition-guide-from-exchange-2003-to-exchange-2010/

Feel free to ask questions as you go through it, I haven't posted my guide as of yet, it is rather long and contains better explanations than this does; however, this will get the job done too, but be careful as there are a few typos.
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Making Bulk Changes to Active Directory

Watch this video to see how easy it is to make mass changes to Active Directory from an external text file without using complicated scripts.

 
Dark_HelmetAuthor Commented:
No Active Directory is not on the same box, but for some reason our predecessors before me thought it would be a good idea to put DHCP on it. (ouch)

I actually have been reading through that exact same transition guide. I found it about a month ago and thought it was too good to be true.

Will your guide contain the ins and outs of how Unity will transition in this process as well?
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RobertPartenCommented:
I would have to talk with the Unity guys who are contacted IT help on that end. I will send them an email asking if there was anything special they had to do.

You can transfer the DHCP role very easily

http://support.microsoft.com/kb/962355
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Dark_HelmetAuthor Commented:
Very cool I appreciate all your input / help on this and I look forward to the updates!!
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RobertPartenCommented:
Dark Helmet, I am not getting timely response from those guys and Cisco is falling short on documentation for this. I will keep researching the best I can.
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Dark_HelmetAuthor Commented:
No problem. We are still in the process of quoting out a new Unity 8 server so that alone could take a few weeks before we even get it.
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Dark_HelmetAuthor Commented:
Great article for anyone transitioning. Simple to follow.
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