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2 Sites, 2 SBS 2011 Servers, Need to merge


We have 2 sites each running SBS 2011 with exchange setup. Each site receives email separate from the other via its SBS Exchange by use of the POP Connector. (Same email domain name for each site, the pop connector just downloads the mail from the GoDaddy inboxes)

I have been tasked with the follwing:

  1. Eliminate the SBS 2011 exchange servers and setting up a single 2013 Exchange server at the main site.
  2. Migrating the SBS 2011 Server to Server 2012 R2 at each site.
  3. Bring the domains under a single forest.

Both sites are running SBS installations with Roaming Profiles, Folder Redirection and Exchange. (Sharepoint services is disabled at both sites.)

What is going to be the best way to migrate the Exchange portion of each SBS 2011 server to Exchange 2013, then plan for migrating the SBS domains to Server 2012 R2 under a single forest.
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Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
You're asking a complicated question that would be best answered by someone with experience who can examine your network and evaluate the best solution for you and then help you implement it.  No environment is as basic as you describe.  There can application dependencies, user requirements, and other things that you won't think of telling us and we don't think to ask because we aren't there.

The high-level overview of this:
You will need to completely get rid of one SBS domain - You cannot create trusts between the two.  I'd suggest the smallest domain but depending on the users involved, you might be better doing this with the larger domain.  I would probably do this FIRST.

Once you have merged the domains, you can preserve the remaining domain by installing the new 2012 R2 server as a DC in the existing domain (DO NOT make it the FSMO master YET).

Then you can install Exchange 2013 and migrate your users off 2010 and onto 2013.  Once you have all users migrated, you can UNINSTALL Exchange from the SBS server, transfer the FSMO roles to the 2012 R2 server, demote the SBS server and then finally remove it from the network.  Minimal interruption for that domain.
CPS_TECH_DTAFTAuthor Commented:

First thank you for your reply,

I understand the complexity of it and was just trying to keep the post short and to the point. I will attempt to be more helpful this time around.

Your post is somewhat in line with what I thought and it made me re-read, yet again, what I had posted.

In hindsight I should have elaborated a bit more. Your suggestion is pretty well in-line with what I want to do, but unfortunately I have been told Exchange needs to be done now and the forest merger will not occur until later on this year.

More to the point, I should have asked how would this all be accomplished granted I had to do the Exchange 2013 migration immediately and that I would not be able to go through the forest merger until later this year.

I am thinking that I should be able to install Server 2012 R2 and Exchange 2013 servers, join them to the SBS 2011 domain at Site 1. Transfer what's needs to be transferred, data-wise to the to-be new domain controller running Server 2012 R2 and then migrate the exchange users to the new Exchange 2013 server. Then transfer the FSMO roles and decommission the SBS server as you have stated.

From there I am a bit fuzzy as to how Exchange should be configured as the forests are still separate between Site 1 and 2.

My gut says that my only option is to set up an Internal Relay on Exchange 2013 at Site 1 to send unresolved recipients to the SBS 2011 Exchange at Site 2.

Will this setup with Exchange 2013 work until I get the go ahead to merge the forests. Is it the best plan of attack given what information you have regarding our environment?

Once I get the go ahead what would be the best order of operations to merge Site 2 with Site 1 and migrate the SBS exchange users to the Exchange 2013 server?
Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
I have not had to deal with splitting a domain between two mail servers so for this, I cannot help much except to say it's the first thing I would resolve.  

Considering your comments, I would probably go this route - but again, a qualified, experienced consultant who can examine your network and speak with first hand knowledge would provide more reliable advice.

1. Install Server 2012 R2 with GUI and add Hyper-V role to physical hardware at the site that will have Exchange.
2. Install TWO VMs with 2012 R2 (your license should permit it).  One VM becomes an additional DC in your SBS 2011 environment.  The other VM becomes your Exchange server (while supported, it is STRONGLY recommended that you DO NOT install Exchange on a DC (SBS was an exception (and requirement)) and considering that a single copy 2012 R2 provides you with 2 VM licenses, there is most likely no good excuse not to install virtually).
3. Migrate your users onto Exchange 2013.  Even the remote ones.  Using Outlook, they can connect to that 2013 server via RPC over HTTPS without a problem.  Further, they have web mail.  So you can thus consolidate mail servers BEFORE collapsing the other domain.
4. When ready get rid of SBS by first transferring the FSMO roles (immediately before retirement) and uninstalling Exchange 2010.  Then DCPROMO and demote.
5. Collapse the other domain into the newly configured domain.
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