Create a Lab Enviroment of my Active Directory

Guys, I have a Windows 2003 server running as DC and exchange 2003. I want to create a test environment of this server so I can test the upgrade process of Exchange 2003 to Exchange 2010 in our corporate location that is on a separate network completely.
I thought the best way to do this was create a VPN connection on the new 2003 server (server2) to connect to the production server (server1) after I replicate the AD to server 2 I was going to disconnect the VPN and never connect again.

Can someone point me in the right direction with step-by-step instructions to achieve creating this test environment?
EdeakinAsked:
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setasoujiroConnect With a Mentor Commented:
no that's not the way to do it at all
what you need to do is either:

have a host for vmware esxi (free virtualization) then do a Physical to virtual conversion of your machine
then you have a exact copy of your domain/server without messing up anything in the actual live domain

or you can take a disk/computer image with some software like Acronis trueimage, and restore that to a VM/server
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MidnightOneCommented:
... or use Microsoft Disk2VHD converter and run in isolated (read: not attached to the real network) within Windows 2008 Hyper-V.
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arifkayacaCommented:
You don't need those. I exactly advise to you, use VMWare Workstation 7, install this program to one of computers and install your servers in VM and test your necessites.

Good luck.
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EdeakinAuthor Commented:
Thank you guys for the advice, I looked over these recommendations over the weekend and one of the issues is that I do not know a whole lot about virtualization and what these processes could do to the production environment.
 
From the little I read is it possible to use VMware Player and the VMware vCenter Converter to convert the PtoV. I read that the vCenter Converter supports Hot Clone so that the production server will not be disrupted. Again from above I am concerned on what this could do to our production environment.

Can you guys shine some light on this and point me in a better direction that would help me make this happen?
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setasoujiroConnect With a Mentor Commented:
You can do a p2v on a production server, no worries. But i would suggest you do it at night/weekend just to be sure.

And vmwareplayer is an option, but much less option to edit/modify the vm.

The only thing to worry about is to keep the new VM(clones) off the network, because otherwise you'll have duplicate machines and will result in serious issues
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EdeakinAuthor Commented:
The one thing I cannot find is the amount of time it takes to perform a P2v. I know there are a lot of variables depending on the environment, but I have two disks (C=67GB and E=205GB). Will this take a long time (8hours or two days)being an Exchange 2003, DC GC, etc to convert and also will I need to provide space for 300GB of space for the VM on a separate device?

Can you give me any insight on this so that I can try and prepare for the unknown?
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setasoujiroConnect With a Mentor Commented:
no you do not need 300 GB, during the P2V wizard you can choose the destination layout of the disk, lets's say the 300GB disk is just 50GB in use, then you can set the outcome of the vm to be 60GB (10GB free space). you can also define the disk as 'thin' meaning it will not be300GB from the start, but grow over time as the VM's data grows.

The conversion will normally not take days, I think 5 hours or something might be the max, all depends, but if you start it at night, your vm will be ready morning after. (if there are no backup jobs running etc)

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EdeakinAuthor Commented:
Thank you for all your help!
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