Migrate SBS 2003 to Windows server 2012 standard

redwing1934 used Ask the Experts™

I'm currently running an SBS 2003 network. I have the SBS 2003 server running Exchange 2000. It was also running an SQL database, but we have since changed software vendors and only occasionally get into the SQL database. The plan is to eventually (the sooner the better) wean ourselves completely from the old database. I also have a member server running Server 2008 R2. It runs LANDesk and a network version of our antivirus software.

My plan is to purchase a new server and migrate to Server 2012 standard with this server as the Primary Domain Contoller. I would like to set up the PDC as my Exchange server and, if possible, migrate Exchange from 2003 to 2010. I also plan to upgrade the server running 2008 R2 to Server 2012 and set it up as a DC. Management would of course like minimal downtime during this process.

Is this possible? What "gotcha's" do I need to be aware of? I'm figuring that decomissioning the SBS server will be one. Also, trying to upgrade from Exchange 2000 to Exchange 2010 will be another.

Can anyone give me some guidance or advice? Or point me in a direction to find these answers? Thank you!

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Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process Advisor
Most Valuable Expert 2013
You're asking to do a complicated upgrade that in my PROFESSIONAL opinion, you should hire a consultant to do for you.

You do not have Exchange 2000.  SBS 2003 comes with Exchange 2003.  If you have Exchange 2000 then you are using SBS 2000 and not SBS 2003.  This is CRITICAL because you can't move this to 2012 easily without being AT LEAST on SBS 2003 so you need to clarify that.

There is no such thing as a primary domain controller.  You need to understand that.  There are FSMO roles that the SBS server MUST have so long as it's in the domain.

Are you going to be installing Virtually?  If not, you are wasting money.  Server 2012 allows you to install it 3 times - once on the hardware with ONLY virtualization roles, and TWICE in virtual machines.  

You should not be running Exchange on a DC.  Further, you CANNOT run Exchange 2010 on Server 2012 yet - you must wait for Service Pack 3 for Exchange before that will work and that's not due out for 3-6 months.  

This can be done with minimal downtime but you're far more likely to cause yourself trouble if you don't have experience doing this kind of MASSIVE upgrade.  Hire a pro who knows what he (or she) is doing and get it done right.  Bring them in to help you plan, including what licenses you need.  You may also want to consider NOT going to 2012 and instead migrate to SBS 2011.  But really, you need Professional IT assistance from someone who can come in to the network, analyze what you have and help you answer questions about what's appropriate for your network and what isn't.  Get the wrong things and you'll overspend or under-fulfill your requirements and put yourself in the crosshairs of management.
I Don't know how large your organization is but I agree that migrating from SBS 03 to SBS 2011 on some new hardware is your best and cheapest option.  You get exchange 2010 built in, sharepoint 2010 built in, and the sbs migration is a much easier task.


Leew -

Just so you know, I'm not stupid. I am getting "professional" help, but what I'm trying to do is make sure the professional advice is accurate and that I don't make mistakes. I'm the whole IT department in a company in a small rural community, and while I haven't done a MASSIVE upgrade lately, I have done them before. It's not always easy keeping up with all the changes when you're a one man band. And believe me, I'm not going to just pick out and purchase hardware and software and hope I got the right things.

Please forgive the "Exchange 2000" typing error, but you'll notice that I typed 2003 further on down in the question. Also forgive the PDC reference as old habits die hard.

Exchange on the DC is what I'm used to with SBS 2003. Thank you for pointing out that I should run it on a member server and not a DC. Thank you also for the Exchange 2010/Server 2012 information. This is the kind of advice that I'm looking for. Just remember you don't always know the background of the people you talk to and that a nicer attitude can lead to more gratitude...

And PaulD, I can't go to SBS 2011 (2011 Essentials) because I have more that 25 users. We are one physical site with 60-65 users and 50+ computers. I appreciate the suggestion, though.

Thank you both for your help and advice. I would welcome anyone else's comments on the question.
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I wouldn't use essentials...I'd go SBS 11 standard which reccomends up to 75 users, you're type of organization is exactly what sbs 11 is meant for.  I have a client that we migrated for 70 users and they couldn't be happier with it.  Being a one man show (trust me i understand what you go through) it is very management friendly since everything is on one box
Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process Advisor
Most Valuable Expert 2013
I'm sorry if you felt insulted by comments.  You made no references to seeking professional assistance in this process so I could only assume from the question that you were planning on doing this ENTIRELY by yourself.  Which in my opinion is unwise given your apparent current knowledge - to be clear - I am not questioning your ability to learn.  I'm stating that EXPERIENCE in this kind of MAJOR network overhaul is vital to ensuring it's done right.  The odds of success can depend greatly on having someone who knows what to do when something doesn't go quite as expected - an experienced pro will understand the product, will have kept up on the technology issues involved (Microsoft doesn't hide this information, but it's exhaustive in what they put out - one of the reasons IT rates are typically high is that SOME of the time an IT person cannot be billing as they need to be learning to be able to properly advise.  I worked in a company of 10 years and you are FAR more sheltered from the industry when you only have one network to manage.

Accuracy when asking a question is important - I've seen people given blatantly wrong advice because they used the wrong terminology.  PDC/BDC terminology died 12 years ago.

And I did check your profile to see if I could get a better understanding of your skill level - but you have not filled it out, so I could only go on your question and how I interpreted it.

I wouldn't have migrated a network with 70 users to SBS 2011 because the user limit is 75.  You're too close.  And there is no easy migration off it.  When you hit 76, that investment in 70 CALs and the server license is basically thrown in the garbage and you have to spend close to $100 per user on CALs and another roughly $2000 on Exchange and Server licenses.  And one small growth spurt and that's a problem.

Essentials 2012 mitigates that - You can now upgrade Essentials to STandard and KEEP the SBS like features (though it must remain the FSMO master DC for supportability).

That said, there is an argument to be made for 2011 before it's no longer sold (June 2013), but I don't necessarily think it's a clear choice.
To be clear I migrate d them at 55 users...they are up to 70..but will not be adding anymore..they are physically out of office space..and no the next step is bigger space..upgraded network..draw back to smaller companies in manhattan.  If your oganization is at 65 and forecast more hires and expansion..absolutely dont go sbs 11..really depends on your organization and budget

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