How to introduce 2012 standard server into SBS 2003 network

mrmut used Ask the Experts™
We have a SBS 2003 R2 Windows Server that hosts domain and other resources. As 2003 is to be phased out, we got a 2012 R2 Standard Edition Server, and we need to introduce it into the network.

So, how to do it?

The idea is that 2012 will become a AD controller, and 2003 will be phased out and left working as a backup server. However, I am not sure what can I expect from SBS, as I know it has series of limitations.

Thanks in advance! :-)
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Technical Lead
Top Expert 2011
You can promote Windows Server 2012 in the existing environment. However, before you proceed ensure that Exchange Server 2003 is not configured on SBS box or member server.To introduce Windows Server 2012 DC in existing domain you need to first migrate Exchange 2003 to Exchange 2007 or Exchange 2010 on member server(Windows Server 2008/R2/2012/).If you planning for MS exchange 2013 deployment then upgrade path will be Exchange 2003 to Exchange 2007/2010 and then to Exchange 2013.

If Exchange is not present in the environment then you can proceed as below.
1.Install Server 2012 on the new server, join to the domain
2.Add ADDS role from Server Manager.
3.Promote it to a domain controller, make it a global catalog server and a DNS Server
4.If DHCP is configured on SBS box then migrate to new Server.If static IP address is assigned to member server/workstation then DNS setting to new DC in NIC properties.
5.Verify the replication between DCs.
6.If any data is present on SBS box then migrate the same to new server.Change the GPO like map drive,folder redirection etc. to point to new server as per requirement.
7. Migrate exchange 2007/2010 to new server if it is present in the env.
8.Shutdown the SBS box during business hour and check the impact. If no issue is reported then transfer the FSMO role to new DC and demote the SBS box.

You cannot keep sbs server as file server due to its limitation.

You can plan to have file server role on new DC or configured the same on member server. It is recommended to have file server and Exchange on domain member server and not on DC. But if the organisation is small and you have budget issue then you can plan to have AD and Exchange role on same server.

Hope this helps


Wow :)

Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process Advisor
Most Valuable Expert 2013

I'm afraid I have to take issue with some of Sandeshdubey comments.  Specifically, his statement: "To introduce Windows Server 2012 DC in existing domain you need to first migrate Exchange 2003" is incorrect.  Before you introduce Exchange 2013 to a 2003 network you need to do migrate to Excchange 2007 or 2010 - NOT Server 2012.  

First, there are few significant limitations for SBS.  Specifically:
1. No Trusts
2. MUST hold FSMO Roles
3. No Terminal Services
4. REALLY should use the wizards for everything.

The above restrictions do not prevent you from adding other servers OR other DCs.  

Things you cannot do in adding the 2012 DC:
1. You cannot raise the domain or forest functional levels of AD.

You should also make sure EVERYTHING is FULLY patched.

As for keep the SBS server, you COULD do that provided you didn't transfer the FSMO roles from it and left it as a DC.  But, I would consider that very unwise considering that support is ending for it next month if it hasn't ended already.  You need to migrate off it completely for security purposes.

Keep in mind, AD is NOT a PDC/BDC model - that ended with NT4 15 years ago.  There is no consequence (beyond the outdated issue and being unable to raise the Domain Functional and Forest Functional levels leaving the FSMO roles on the SBS server so as not to violate it's licensing.  PROVIDED you are fully patched (there was a bug for DCs mixing 2003 and 2012 (R2?) but that should have been fixed.


Thanks a lot Lee, this is a helpful comment! :-)

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