From Win2003 Server VM to Win2012 - domain controller

Hello Smart People,

I have a client that needs their Win2003 server (DC) migrated Win2012. A plethora of information is available on this process, as most IT folks have probably been embroiled in this process several times during the past 12-14 months. I have one related issue and one follow up question.

Issue

The current win2003 server is running on a VMWare ESXI 4.0.x implementation along with several other VM instances. Room is available on the same guest host to make the Win2012 installation. There are 4 disks allocated to this Win2003 server from the available VMWare storage, including 3 (500 g +) from a internal array and 1 (1.5 tb) from an external QNAP NAS.

So my question / issue: I will need to keep the data from  3 of the 4 disks available to the new Win2012 server instance. Is there way to do this without copying off, recreating and re-populating the disks?

Question

Most all the documents I have reviewed regarding Win2003 DC  > Win2012 refer to several manual steps, include transferring FMSO rules. While this process makes sense, shouldn't we be able to just add the Win2012 to the existing domain (managed by the Win2003 DC) and allow the configuration to propagate? Then we can just demote the old Win2003 and promote the new win2012.  Is this correct or am I missing something.

Thanks much for any guidance or advice.

Stefan
zicemanAsked:
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Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE Fellow)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
First thing you need to do, is something with ESXi 4.0, it's no longer supported, and Windows Server 2012, or 2012 R2 is not supported.

see the HCL

http://www.vmware.com/go/hcl

Your data disks can be easily moved to any other virtual machine.

You are correct, you would add another 2012 server to the domain, and transfer the FSMO roles, and then remove the 2003 server. You wil also want to transfer DNS and DHCP also.
zicemanAuthor Commented:
OK. Then that would mean that the new DC would probably need to be installed on a a different guest machine. I don't think it will be feasible to migrate the entire VMWare installation at this point. There is a 5.5 EXSi machine that might be available, and it appears to be compatible.

Or... we could just go with Win2008R2 on the older machine for now and buy some time.

Any recommendations on best approach / practices?

As for the DC migration, so there definitely *required* manual steps involved aside from demoting and promoting the servers on the existing domain?
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE Fellow)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
go straight to Windows 2012, and find a host which supports 2012.

see here

https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dn486809.aspx

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Brian BEE Topic Advisor, Independant Technology ProfessionalCommented:
The whole process is usually pretty painless. (And you'll note as IT people, we don't say "definitely"). Just be careful about checking for errors and making sure everything is working correctly before demoting the old DC.
zicemanAuthor Commented:
Andrew - OK. If do this, then I will definitely need to archive the data off the data disks and rebuild them on a new VMWare guest machine.

Brian - Yes, I am migrating the domain controller, but was hoping to keep the Win2003 box around for a little while longer.  But I am rethinking the plan base on this - http://blogs.technet.com/b/askds/archive/2014/07/23/it-turns-out-that-weird-things-can-happen-when-you-mix-windows-server-2003-and-windows-server-2012-r2-domain-controllers.aspx
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