Server Fault is a question and answer site for system and network administrators. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I find myself tasked with organizing an upgrade of our entire Active Directory from server 2003 to 2008. We run a few AD dependant services such as

  • Exchange 2007
  • SQL Server 2008
  • SharePoint 2007

All of which we are looking to bring up to date as well with their most recent versions. The original AD was a little bit of a mess (the exchange upgrade from 2003 left some stuff in the AD database that I make references to servers that no longer exist for example).

Here is what I want to accomplish

  • Migrate the domain from our 2003 to a NEW clean 2008r2 domain
  • Upgrade from Sharepoint 2007 to 2010
  • Upgrade Exchange from 2007 to 2010

My question is, in what order do we do things? Can I do a domain upgrade and simply migrate exchange after? On their own, these objectives are complicated enough, orchestrating them in our company while minimizing downtime is making my head spin. I have done a lot of the research on how to do them individually but I am having trouble figuring out how to do them all in concert.

share|improve this question
up vote 7 down vote accepted

Oh gosh no. Why do a new domain? You're going to make things SO much more difficult than you have to. There's no easy way to move Exchange mailboxes to a fresh domain like that without avoiding the dreaded legacyExchangeDN problem. AD can be cleaned up easier than this migration would be. The only thing in AD that really can't be fixed is schema problems, which you don't have.

Keep your old domain. Just clean it up first. Here's some of the more common KBs you'll need to do this: will walk you through removing your Exchange servers from AD. Just skip down to the section that says "Remove the Exchange Server 2003 server from Active Directory" will walk you through recreating system folders (in case they weren't transferred over during your last migration) If you've still got an old server generating the Offline Address List, follow the section in this article called "Change the server that is responsible for generating the Offline Address List"

Once your domain is cleaned up, you can upgrade in whichever order makes the most sense for you and your users. Exchange 2010 can run with 2003 DCs, so you can upgrade those before or after.

share|improve this answer
Yes, keep the domain. +1 for you. I thought I'd said that in my answer but I didn't. I shall do so now. – user3914 Feb 3 '11 at 6:11

(As you already know) Exchange is deeply embedded in ActiveDirectory, but as you're not doing Small Business Server (count your lucky stars), you can probably get away with a delayed migration the following way:

  1. Windows
  2. Exchange
  3. SharePoint

Exchange should see your new AD structure magically (in fact, the AD migration from 2003 to 2008 R2 on the forest and domain level takes a matter of minutes).

[EDIT: As Jason said in his answer, don't create a new domain. Please, it's not worth the hassle.]

So I would put my new Windows 2008 R2 server on the network, make it a GC server, then install Exchange on it (in your timeline) using the Microsoft documentation. The migration itself is fairly painless.

I'm not sure how easy SharePoint will be though. I've never had much luck with it. And if anyone else can suggest a different route, I'd be happy to learn from them too.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.