Raising Domain Functionalality to R2 with Windows 2000 Servers in Domain

We have 6 AD servers all running 2008 or 2008R2.  We also have about 40 servers running a mix of 2003/2008 with 2 servers running 2000 and all are member servers.  Our current domain functional level is 2003.  I need to migrate to 2012 so I want to first raise our domain functional level to 2008 R2 and then incorporate 2012 DC's and raise it again.

The question is, can I do this without worrying about the Windows 2000 servers (as member servers) being able to authenticate users to the 2008R2 & beyond AD structure?  I can't at this time upgrade or remove these servers as they are running a specific tool that is no longer supported and to replace it would cost ALOT of money.
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netbonesAsked:
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ButlerTechnologyCommented:
Domain functionality will not impact the member servers.  The impact is on domain controllers as your would be setting the stage for new domain controllers.  If you move your domain functionality level to 2008 R2 then the only machines that can be domain controllers are server 2008 R2 or higher.

Tom
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netbonesAuthor Commented:
Ok so then since I have 2008 and 2008R2 servers I can only raise it to 2008 functionality until I replace the 2008R2 servers, correct?

What happens if I introduce a 2012 DC by upgrading the forest/domain?  Would I still have to keep it at 2008 functionality (I assume so) unless I remove all 2008/2008R2 servers?
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ButlerTechnologyCommented:
If you have a mix of Server 2008 and 2008 R2 Domain Controllers,  you can only go up to 2008 domain functionality.  It isn't until you remove the 2008 domain controllers can you move to 2008 r2 functionality.  You are correct in regards to the introduction of a 2012 DC.

Tom
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