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We're in the process of virtualizing our 32-bit Windows 2003 domain, which includes Exchange 2003 and SQL Server 2005. We're going with VMWare vSphere Essentials Plus. The decision has been made to upgrade to Windows 2003 x64 during the process, which also necessitates the need to upgrade to Exchange 2007 64-bit (which we're already licensed for).

As our current setup is 32-bit, a straight-up P2V won't do. My question is, do we implement these as new systems, or should we try to preserve the names, etc. as if we had upgraded?

I think it would be smoothest if we join the new DC to the domain, let it replicate, and add the Exchange 2007 server, move the mailboxes, then demote the old DC and remove the old Exchange server.

Currently it looks like this:

Server 1: Windows 2003 32-bit, DC, Exchange 2003 Server 2: Windows 2003 32-bit, DC, SQL Server 2005 32-bit

Need to make it look like this:

VM 1: Windows 2003 x64, DC, Exchange 2007 VM 2: Windows 2003 x64, DC, SQL Server 2005 64-bit

Am I on the right track?

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Why can't you do a P2V? I've P2V'd plenty of Server 2003 32-bit machines in my life... You just need to remember to shut down a domain controller before doing the P2V, rather than doing it online, and make sure the original DC never, ever comes back online. – Mark Henderson Dec 5 '11 at 4:40
We're hoping to go 64-bit with all of this. :) – s-twig Dec 5 '11 at 4:43
Well, you will for the new exchange server obviously, but there's no reason you can't virtualise the old exchange server and domain controllers if you're keen to get them off dedicated boxes. – Mark Henderson Dec 5 '11 at 4:46
up vote 1 down vote accepted

Your approach looks great to me. That being said - why are you keeping on Windows Server 2003? It's an 8 year old OS. Similarly - you should definitely step from Exchange 2003 to Exchange 2007 before Exchange 2010, but 2010 is now 2 years old.

This is probably your best opportunity to easily/cleanly upgrade - your users will already be expecting some discontinuity of service. Just my $.02.

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Thanks, I appreciate that. It's just a matter of budget; the primary purpose of the project was to enhance our DR capability. – s-twig Dec 5 '11 at 5:31

I would 100% agree with your approach. You have eliminated any work required to p2vand won't need to spend time removing any extra cruft from the new servers. Additionally you will want to keep 1 dc physical ( preferably with the PDC emulator role held there) My only question is if you want to go 64 bit, why not go to 2008r2

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Money. It was hard to get the project approved, (SAN and new servers) etc. without bringing up Server licences and 100+ new CALs. – s-twig Dec 5 '11 at 5:27
That brings up anpther point. You should verify your licensing. The most common licensing issue I see is when folks assume they can transfer licenses when they bought the licenses with the server. – Jim B Dec 5 '11 at 17:45
Thanks for the advice. One more query. Will an A record pointing to the new server fix any issues with clients looking for a decommisioned old server, ie. Exchange, SQL and UNC paths. – s-twig Dec 6 '11 at 4:20
So the answer is, it depends. For exchange take a look at… there are any number of solutions for inc - that's a separate question, and with SQL - usually that works, but if it uses SQL browsing it won't. – Jim B Dec 6 '11 at 6:01

I know this probably wont help you much as it seems you've got it sorted out anyway, but I've recently done a similar upgrade but remained on 32bit arch.

I had a number of problems getting the 2003 DC to convert to a VM using VMware's P2V software. I instead used StorageCraft ShadowProtect.

Made a complete image/backup of the server using ShadowProtect, then booted the VM off the recovery media and restored the backup image into the VM. I didn't think it would work but it actually did. I was very surprised.

May not be much use to you but for others that come here having issues converting a physical machine to VM, this is just an idea.

Hopefully it helps someone. It certainly saved me a hell of a lot of time and stuffing around.

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