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?