Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Transitioning from Exchange Server 2003 to Exchange Server 2010 Part-1

In this multi-part article, we will take a deep dive into how to transition between Exchange forests with different versions of Exchange deployed.

Transitioning from Exchange Server 2003 to Exchange Server 2010 Part-2
Transitioning from Exchange Server 2003 to Exchange Server 2010 Part-3
Transitioning from Exchange Server 2003 to Exchange Server 2010 Part-4
Transitioning from Exchange Server 2003 to Exchange Server 2010 Part-5

1. Introduction

Microsoft reached the RTM (Release to Manufacturing) milestone for Exchange Server 2010 on October 8, 2009, and it was officially launched on November 9, 2009. Exchange Server 2010 (currently at Service Pack 2) is available in two server editions; Standard edition and Enterprise edition. Microsoft Exchange Server 2010 and this new version of Exchange Server contain a lot of compelling new features such as the Flexible and reliable, anywhere access, Protection and compliance. Exchange 2010 including many changes to its core architecture new High Availability such as incremental deployment, mailbox database copies, and database availability groups work with other feature such as shadow redundancy and transport dumpster to provide a new, unified platform for high availability and site resilience.

June 2010, Microsoft released the public beta of Exchange Server 2010 Service Pack 1 with lot of improvement such as Archiving, control panel, core store functionality changes, Outlook Web App has been improved, and most important thing for Exchange admin Import and Export Mailboxes.

The newest update for Exchange 2010 Service Pack 2 release date 4th December 2011 with Hybrid Configuration Wizard, address book policy, Cross-Site Silent Redirection for Outlook Web App, Mini OWA and multi value custom attributes.

If we have an Exchange Server 2003 environment we may want to skip Exchange Server 2007 and move directly to Exchange Server 2010. The easiest way to achieve this is to integrate Exchange Server 2010 into the existing Exchange Server 2003 environment, a so called intra-organizational migration. This is also known as transitioning from Exchange Server 2003 to Exchange Server 2010.

2. Background

Exchange 2003 is slowly getting close to the end of its lifecycle (08-04-2014). Besides the end of mainstream support, there are other good reasons to switch to a newer Exchange version. In particular, Exchange 2010 offers many features that are just too good to be ignored. In addition to high scalability, the most welcome feature is the Database Availability Groups (DAG). It has never been easier to offer High Availability services for your users. But what about the migration to Exchange 2010; is it as simple as building a DAG?

The migration certainly is easier than what most administrators will expect. Microsoft also offers some nice guides, such as the Exchange Server Deployment Assistant. Though I strictly followed the guide, I encountered more than one problem. As problem solving can take quite some time, I decided to share my experience. This is by no means a complete migration guide or an alternative to the documentation available on TechNet or elsewhere. It is merely a supplement to the Exchange Server Deployment Assistant.

3. Current State

We have a fictitious company called Almora, which is a consulting company specializing in tourism. Almora has approximately 30000 employees, 25000 employees are working in the office, and 5000 employees are working ‘in the field’. Employees within the office have their own desktop which connects to an Exchange 2003 Mailbox Server using Outlook 2003 and Outlook 2007. Employees outside the office connect to the office using their company laptop with Outlook 2007 and Outlook Anywhere and with Windows Mobile devices. When needed they can use their PC at home to use Outlook Web Access to access their mailbox. Typical usage profile is “light”, approximately 15 messages are received per day and 10 messages are sent per day. Almora is using only one namespace for accessing all services from the Internet: webmail.almora.com. this is used for Outlook Web Access, Outlook Anywhere and Windows Mobile devices.

Recently Almora has been thinking about upgrading to Exchange Server 2010 directly.

Coexistence with Exchange Server 2010

Exchange Server 2010 can easily coexist in an Exchange Server 2003 organization as long as the Exchange Server 2010 prerequisites are met:

• The Active Directory forest needs to be in Windows Server 2003 forest functionality mode;

• All domains that contain Exchange recipients need to be in Windows Server 2003 domain native mode;

• The Global Catalog Servers and the Active Directory Schema Master need to be at a minimum level of Windows Server 2003 SP1 (which equals to Windows Server 2003 R2);

• The Exchange 2003 organization needs to be running in ‘native mode’;

• Link State updates on all Exchange Server 2003 servers need to be disabled according to Microsoft knowledge base article 'Suppress Link State Updates'

4. Future State

Almora will build one new Exchange Server 2010 servers, combined Mailbox, Hub Transport Server / Client Access Server. This Server will be installed in the same Windows Server 2003 Active Directory domain as the Exchange Server 2003 organization. This will greatly improve the ease of moving mailbox from Exchange Server 2003 to Exchange Server 2010.

Moving from Exchange Server 2003 to Exchange Server 2010 in the same Active Directory forest is called transitioning. Building a new Active Directory forest with a new Exchange Server 2010 organization and moving mailboxes from the old Active Directory to the new Active Directory is called migrating.

The interim messaging environment, where both Exchange Server 2003 and Exchange Server 2010 coexist in the same Active Directory domain.


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