Exchange Setup

Here is my environment:

Locations: 3 (Texas - office, Ontario, CA - office, Irvine - COLO)
Network: both locations are interconnected via Telepacific MPLS. Both networks can see each other 192.168.x.x and 172.16.x.x

Current Domain: Windows 2008 R2, located in Texas, replicates over WAN
Current Exchange: Windows 2003, Exchange 2003, about 160-200 users

Goal:
Move exchange AND domain controller to server in COLO (in Irvine) and access it over the MPLS WAN at both offices, Ontario and the one is Texas.

The decision has been made to forget about "migrating" 2003 to 2010 to 2013.  And just do a clean install of 2013 and start from scratch (not my decision, but it does simplify things).

Our Plan:
Patch, update firmwares,, etc... for the new Exchange server at the COLO.
Will be installing 2013 from scratch
There will be no migration, so we don't have to worry about that.

Step 1: Backup Exchange 2003 and DC
Step 2: We are going to install and configure Exchange 2013 on the server at the COLO (server is windows 2012)
Step 3: I'm assuming it will automatically get the users' from DC in Texas right?
Step 4: We are going to add another domain to the Exchange server for testing purposes only. We'll probably also use a different IP to not disrupt email services.
Step 5: Once we verify the new exchange server is working properly, we are going to decommission Exchange 2003 and Erase all DNS entries on the network.
Step 6: In parallel to this, we are going to upgrade all users to office 2013 and we are going to configure autodiscover so they can run Outlook and connect automatically to the new server.

We will obviously change MX records at the domain registrar as well.  Someone else will worry about importing PST to outlook, if necessary :) Thank God it's not us.

Any thoughts, advice, feedback. Am I missing anything critical?
Anthony H.Asked:
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R--RCommented:
You first have to decommission Exchange 2003 to bring the Exchange 2013 in a organization.
So you have to first decide what will you do about Exchange 2003 mailboxes.

Reference article from technet https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ms.exch.setupreadiness.exchange2000or2003presentinorg%28v=exchg.150%29.aspx
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Anthony H.Author Commented:
Is that the only caveat?
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Gareth GudgerCommented:
Step 4: We are going to add another domain to the Exchange server for testing purposes only.

Can you clarify on this? Will this domain be in a completely different forest? Because the Exchange Organization follows the forest and not the domain. You can't have two Exchange Organizations in the same forest.

If it is a separate domain/forest what is the plan to move all users, computer and other applications to the new domain/forest? Exchange can't be ripped from one forest and dropped into the original.

I hate to say this.... but you could do the double hop upgrade in less time than it will take to do this.

If you are going to a new domain/forest with 2013, I'd recommend a good migration app. It will cost money, but will save a lot of time and potential pitfalls.
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