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questions on upgrading Exchange 2000 to 2003

EE

I am preparing to upgrade our 3 sites that run Exchange 2000 on Windows 2000 hardware to Exchange 2010.  The interim step will be moving to Exchange 2003 which is what I am doing now.  We will be moving mailboxes to new 2003 hardware as opposed to an in-place upgrade.  I am generally familiar with the upgrade process and have reviewed several How To documents.  But I still have some specific questions.  I have one Org, three sites each with its own Exchange 2000 server.  We run Exchange 2000 in Native Mode.  We also have Active Directory 2003 though it is running in AD 2000 Native Mode.  

Of course, there can be no disruption in service to other sites/servers when I am working on one server.   So....

-Do I need to raise the functional level of Active Directory 2003 from 2000 Native to 2003 Native before this upgrade or will that break the remaining Exchange 2000 systems?
-Does it matter which Exchange server is migrated to Exchange 2003 first?  I'd like to start with a branch office.  (FYI, we are moving mailboxes from the old Exchange 2000 server to new Exchange 2003 & hardware.)
-Since we are running AD 2003 (in 2000 Native Mode) I am assuming I do not need to run any adprep /forestprep or adprep /domainprep - correct?
-I am assuming ExDeploy, for my scenario, will probably address all issues for me without too much preparation - correct?

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JohnDemerjian
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JohnDemerjian
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Seth SimmonsSr. Systems AdministratorCommented:
1) You don't need to raise the functioning level.

2) It doesn't matter which one you do first, though you might want to review this article regarding the first 2000 server you implemented.

http://support.microsoft.com/kb/307917

3) adprep is for new version of Windows as a domain controller; needed if you decide to install 2008 domain controller later.  You do need to run the Exchange 2003 setup with /forestprep and /domainprep switches.

http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/aa997526%28EXCHG.65%29.aspx

4) I haven't used ExDeploy so I couldn't comment on that.

Also to look over...

http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/aa997042%28EXCHG.65%29.aspx

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JohnDemerjianAuthor Commented:
seth

Thanks for that.  Follow-up on the first Exchange server in the Org - I am reading that after adding an Exchange 2003 system to my organization, I should be sure to make it the Recipient Update Service computer.  I am wondering if I upgrade a branch office first, will this pose a problem here.  In other words, should RUS on the main server at the main location be running on a 2003 system prior to any others?

http://www.tech-faq.com/migrating-from-exchange-2000-server-to-exchange-server-2003.html
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Seth SimmonsSr. Systems AdministratorCommented:
When you put in the first 2003 server and get that going, you could add a RUS for it.  It's been several years since I did a 2000 to 2003 migration so offhand I don't remember the exact order we did things but you should be ok adding the first 2003 as a RUS once it's in.
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JohnDemerjianAuthor Commented:
thank you!
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