Exchange 2010 single server upgrade to Archive and DAG

All,
I have a series of questions because I am still new to Exchange and inherited a horrible 2010 environment. We currently have a single Exchange 2010 SP3 running all the roles. There are no quota on the mailboxes and very few securities in place.
At this time there is not any available windows for offline maintenance but we want to shrink the mailbox DB. Could I setup an Archive Mailbox Server, set archive policies, and have the data automatically archive from the Mailbox DBs to the new Archive DB that I plan to be on a different server? Can the new Archive Server be a new Exchange build that is only used for Archiving?
Later, I would like to move to a DAG solution. Could I take the configuration of the current Exchange server and proposed Archive server and migrate to a DAG solution? Would I just need to migrate the roles off the current server (i.e. Mailbox role) to two Active/Passive new builds and role back the current to a CAS/Transport server?
Any direction would be appreciated noting currently we need to shrink the Mailbox DB and still remain online and provide users with all past emails. PST is not a very good option, that is why I think the Personal Archive may work.

Thank you all in advance
kryanCAsked:
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SeanSystem EngineerCommented:
Could I setup an Archive Mailbox Server, set archive policies, and have the data automatically archive from the Mailbox DBs to the new Archive DB that I plan to be on a different server? - Yes you can you just need to simply install exchange on another server with the mailbox role and setup a database on there and use that as your archive database.

Can the new Archive Server be a new Exchange build that is only used for Archiving?
- Yes see above answer

Could I take the configuration of the current Exchange server and proposed Archive server and migrate to a DAG solution? - You can use your current servers. You would just need to create two additional servers to be create your copy and you will also need to have a DAG Witness Server which can be any other server in your network.

would I just need to migrate the roles off the current server (i.e. Mailbox role) to two Active/Passive new builds and role back the current to a CAS/Transport server? - No you would not need to do that, however i recommend building two CAS Servers and then 2 mailbox servers. There really is no need to have two separate servers for two databases unless hardware requirements are the problem

Have you checked your current whitespace? are you running out of hard drive space? why not add an additional space and create a second database to move some users to it? I agree a DAG is always a good idea but for space issues archiving will not shrink your database it will only create whitespace which you will need to take the database offline to shrink or create and move everyone to a new one to get space back.
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kryanCAuthor Commented:
Thanks Zindel1. This is exactly I what I needed to move forward and inform the business. To be clear, archiving data off the current storage array will not free any space until I can get the database offline in order to "shrink" it? If I do this is there a special process to clean the white space or just a dfrag? Again, sorry but I am really not an Exchange guy.

Thanks
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SeanSystem EngineerCommented:
Here is a good guide
http://exchangeserverpro.com/defrag-exchange-2010-mailbox-database/

I always recommend just creating a second database and move all users to it then delete the old one but if you don't have the space for it then this is the way to go.

Don't be sorry we are here to help!
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Simon Butler (Sembee)ConsultantCommented:
If you haven't already, deploy an RPC CAS Array. Do it right now.
That will make moving to a new Exchange build much easier.

It is now considered best practise to have all three roles on the same server, rather than splitting them out. Therefore if you wanted to implement a DAG then you can do so with your current configuration or a new build Exchange. If you suspect the database design is poor, then a new install of two Exchange 2010 servers would be the best option.

Simon.
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kryanCAuthor Commented:
Thanks didn't know that it is now preferred to keep all the roles on the server(s). So, DAG implementation should be a matter of adding a new fully role loaded Exchange 2010?

Thought it was best to transfer CAS/Transport off current to new server then do the same for the Mailbox role to two new servers, and then use the current as your second CAS/Transport. This is no longer the best practice?

Kryan
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