Exchange 2003 to Exchange 2013

I am looking for the best alternative going from exchange 2003 Standard to Exchange 2013.  I bought a brand new Dell Server to install Exchange 2013.  I have an existing Exchange 2003 running in a 2003 AD domain.  I know Exchange 2003 and 2010 can co-exist and is a viable upgrade path, and then upgrade from 2010 to 2013.  However, none of these options are in-place solutions.  So, if I first upgrade from Exchange 2003 to 2010, how will I then upgrade from 2010 to 2013 without another server for the Exchange 2013 implementation?

I understand I can completely remove the existing Exchange 2003 server, and then install Exchange 2013 on the new box.  However, I have heard completely removing Exchange 2003 from AD domain is problematic and a headache.  We only have 15 clients so we are not talking about a big installation.  I prefer making one move from 2003 to 2013, but I like the migration option going from 2003 to 2010.  Any suggestions?
cmp119IT ManagerAsked:
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Simon Butler (Sembee)Connect With a Mentor ConsultantCommented:
You would have to remove EVERYTHING Exchange related to use the same domain. That will mean losing all email address, permissions, rules, other configuration changes etc. It would cause a lot of headaches.

The method I would use is to standup a temporary server to install Exchange 2010 on to, move to that, remove Exchange 2003 completely then move to your new server.

Although saying that, my instinct right now would be to migrate to Exchange 2010 on your new server and then wait. Exchange 2013 still has issues, particularly around third party support and there isn't much to be gained between 2010 and 2013 for this number of users.

You could still migrate to Exchange 2013 later, when it has settled down, has all the functionality and third party support is good.

Stelian StanNetwork AdministratorCommented:
For only 15 clients you can export the mailboxes to PST files and then remove Exchange 2003 and install Exchange 2013, import all the mailboxes.

For 2003 to 2010 migration:
cmp119IT ManagerAuthor Commented:
That's what I was thinking, but I've heard completely removing exchange 2003 from the AD domain is more involved than simply running add/remove program to remove Microsoft Exchange.  Additional AD hacks are necessary to completely remove all references of the 2003 Exchange server.   So what I am saying complete removal of Exchange 2003 from AD domain is not clean and there will be problems installing Exchange 2013 afterwards.  I just don't want to spend a whole weekend trying to figure this all out and panic trying to get exchange working again about removal.
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When there is no problem with Exchange 2003 you can just unistall Exchange using Add/Remove programs and after that run exchange setup.exe with the /REMOVEORG switch. This will remove Exchange complete from AD.

But as many others I experienced uninstall Exchange 2003 can run into several errors and you need to remove stuff manual, these articles may help: and

and at the end it will be gone certain. This could take a while any other one step you could do is built a complete new domain and migrate all users, computers and data manual to the new domain.

Another option could be make a good backup from the original server restore it to a temporay (virtual, test) server and do the uninstall so you are absolute sure everything will work fine.
lluddenConnect With a Mentor Commented:
I'd consider sticking your new exchange installation into a VM running on your new box.  It doesn't really affect your migration situation, but it does open a bunch of options for the future.  

You could even virtualize your existing server, and test some migrations using virtuals.  We ended up virtualizing most of our servers and it has provided a lot of flexibility.   I can copy a few VMs to a new box, and have a complete clone of our network for testing things like this.
cmp119IT ManagerAuthor Commented:
I do have a powerful Dell PE R720 server with 32Gbs of RAM and disk space.  However, it has an OEM version Windows 2012 Standard installed.  I do not have the Hyper-V component installed at this time.  I do have an available volume license of W2K8 Standard R2 available.  So your recommendation would be to install Exchange Server 2010 on a W2K8 VM, and then later on install a second (W2K8 or W2K12) VM with Exchange 2013?

This approach sounds great, but I have one Exchange Server 2013 license with 20 CALS.  I know I have downgrade rights to Exchange 2010, but can I temporarily install Exchange 2010 and 2013 simultaneously on separate VMs?
Simon Butler (Sembee)ConsultantCommented:
OEM allows you to install the additional virtual machines. You may have a virtual key on the machine.
Exchange 2010 and 2013 come up in trial mode by default.

Therefore when you come to do the second step of the migration to Exchange 2013, you could install Exchange 2013 in trial mode, do the migration then once you have removed Exchange 2010 enter your key. Then you are never over your licence allowance.

Exchange 2010 is supported on Windows 2012 - you just have to use Exchange 2010 SP3 from the public download site.

You could use HyperV or VMWARE for the virtual machine host. Personally I prefer VMWARE, but each to their own. If you do use HyperV then the installation on the physical host must only be used for the HyperV role, nothing else.

cmp119IT ManagerAuthor Commented:
Thank you all for your valuable input.  I think I will see if I can install Exchange 2010 on a VM and migrate Exchange 2003 to 2010.  Once everything completely migrates to 2010 and I remove Exchange 2003, then I will look at installing another VM on the same Windows 2012 host to install and migrate from Exchnage 2010 to Exchange 2013.  Since Windows Server 2012 offer 2 free VMs I might as well go for it.  I simply want to make the whole process as painless as possible, and minimize any disruption of mail services to our 15 users.  I don't have any exposure to VMWare, so I can't comment on their offerings.
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