Exchange 2003 to Exchange 2010 Migration

Posted on 2014-03-11
Last Modified: 2016-11-23
I am in the process of beginning an Exchange 2003 to Exchange 2010 migration.  I have a Dell PE R720 with Windows Server 2012 OEM.  I believe this OS comes with two free VMs, and have several questions about installing the preferred OS for the VMs and AD servers, etc.

I am planning a two step migration (Exch2003 to Exch2010, and then in the future Exch2010 to Exch2013).  We have (18) Exchange mailboxes.

Our Current AD environment contains two DCs (primary with all roles is a Windows 2003 R2 server).  I have an alternate Windows Server 2012 DC on the network as well.  The Domain Functional Level and Forest Functional Levels are at Windows Server 2003.

I really need to get rid of the primary Windows 2003 DC altogether.  I understand I need to move all the FSMO roles to the other DC before running DCPromo to demote and remove it from the domain.

In this scenario I have several questions:

1.  I only have a Windows Server 2012 DC once the existing Windows 2003 DC is demoted and removed from the Domain.  Is this advisable before migrating Exchange 2003?  I do not think Exchange Server 2003 will work with such an advanced DC design.

2.  Should I simply leave the DC as is, and conduct the Exchange migration, and then once the migration is completed to Exchange 2010 then move the FSMO roles and demote the Windows 2003 Server?

3.  The exchange 2010 server will be a VM.  I am not sure if Windows Server 2012 Standard OEM allows downgrading the VMs to Windows Serve 2008 R2.  I am thinking Exchange 2010 ought to work fine on a Windows Server 2012 OS.  Then again, I believe it was designed on the Windows Server 2008 platform.  

I simply want to minimize as much disruption in the AD domain, and then also mail flow.  The migration path seems to provide minimal disruption over a specified period of time compared to creating a new Windows Server 2012 AD with a clean Exchange 2013 rollout.  Please let me know if a 2003 AD will be fine for the exchange migration, etc.  Then also whether Exchange 2010 can be installed on Windows Server 2012 or if its better on a Windows Server 2008 R2.  Thanks.
Question by:cmp119
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Expert Comment

by:Adam Brown
ID: 39920763
1 and 2: You may want to migrate email before upgrading your domain to 2012. Exchange 2010 works fine with a 2003 Functional level, but there are some issues with Exchange 2003 using 2012 DCs.
3. Server 2010 SP3 is supported on server 2012, but no earlier versions will install. I don't believe there are downgrade rights included in the server 2012 license, but you should be able to contact MS to be sure.

Expert Comment

by:Jason Ryberg
ID: 39920884
RE #1/2: I would make as few changes to your environment prior to your migration as possible.  This way, if something were to go wrong, you have a narrower selection of possible causes to choose from.

RE #3: From MS Windows 2012 Datasheet, "In place of the licensed version, you may run prior versions or lower editions in any of the OSEs of the licensed server. If you have Windows Server 2012 Datacenter edition you will have the right to run the bits of any prior version or lower edition (Datacenter, Enterprise, Standard or Essentials). If you have Windows Server 2012 Standard edition, you will have the right to run the bits of any prior version of Enterprise, Standard or Essentials edition. You should remember that the ability to run previous version or edition bits does not change the licensing or support terms in which you can use the product; the purchased product (Windows Server 2012) rights apply. This means that the license will continue to cover two physical processors and the virtualization rights do not change." (Source)

Author Comment

ID: 39920984
Thanks so much for your response.  I thought the exchange server migration should take place before upgrading the domain.  Thanks for the confirmation.

Since Exch 2010 SP-3 works well on Server 2012, then I can proceed.

Any suggestions or do you have any additional information about conducting an Exchange 2003 to 2010 migration.  

I am currently using a document by the name of rapid-transition-guide-from-exchange-2003-to-exchange-2010.pdf.

If you have additional documentation that would greatly appreciated.  Thanks.

Accepted Solution

Jason Ryberg earned 500 total points
ID: 39921047
I've participated in a couple Exchange migrations.  The last thing you want to do is draw out this migration.  Honestly, I would suggest getting prepared and get this finished over a weekend or similarly short timeframe.  Microsoft has made the migration process fairly simple and easy, but leaving an Exchange organization in "migration mode" for an extended period of time is a bad idea (based on experience, the longer you're in migration mode, the more weirdness happens).  If you're using OWA, remember to get a wildcard cert to ensure you can cover your entire organization's domain requirements.

Author Closing Comment

ID: 39921129
Jason - thanks so much for advice.

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