We have Windows Server 2003 R2 Domian Controllers, which we want to upgrade to Windows Server 2012 R2. In our environment we also have Exchange 2010 v.14.03.0.158.001
There are 2 sites
There are 2 domain controllers per site
and one exchange server that has 2 iis sites one for External clients and one for internal
We also have quite a bit of group policies that we'd like to retain
All but Exchange are VMs on VMware hosts
Our domain controllers are backed up with Veeam 7 and Exchange with Symantec BE 2012
Our Domain and Forest Functional Levels are both Windows Server 2003
Q1: I'm looking for the procedure to upgrade domain controllers and Active Directory to at least 2008 R2 functional level, given the above scenario.
Are there any underwater stones that someone doing upgrade should be aware?
What is the best way to backup and recover DCs, Exchange and AD in case of a failure?
Are there any changes to Group Policies that may happen during upgrade, which may cause them to apply in a wrong way?
Q2: Does it make sense to upgrade to 2012 R2 yet, or it's better to wait for a while till enough patches are released?