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This is my first post on this exchange (although not my first on stack exchange), so please have patience.

I am a 3rd year student intern, and I have been tasked with virtualizing the server systems at the company I work for. I have come a long way, and I am almost ready to install the VM Server in migration mode. Here is some information:

Source Server: Windows Server 2012 Standard Evaluation

  • DNS Server (local only)
  • Advanced Directory Domain Services
  • File and Storage stuff
  • A few other server roles

Destination Server: Windows Server 2012 Essentials OEM (Hyper-V client)

  • Running under a temporary Hyper-V host (will migrate the Hyper-V host back to the old machine after the original server is virtualized as a client).
  • Sitting currently at the "Select Installation Mode" screen.

I have been following the guides on Microsoft tech net, and today I spent most of the day getting rid of issues in the Best Practices Analyser on the source machine.

I have 3 remaining issues (which are all related):

  • ERROR: DNS: DNS servers on Ethernet (adapter name) should include the loopback address, but not as the first entry (flavour text indicates that, during migration, the DNS server may not be found)
  • WARNING: All domains should have at least two domain controllers for redundancy.
  • WARNING: DNS: Ethernet should be configured to use both a preferred and an alternate DNS Server.

All of these issues can be resolved by deploying a secondary domain controller, but I have never done that before (see my concerns below). The main issue here that I am concerned with for installing in migration mode is the FIRST one (the error). If I try and set-up the new server deployment, and the adapter domain controller is listed as localhost, then this may cause the installation to fail. (at least, this is what the Microsoft documentation suggests). But I do not have another IP address to enter here as I have no other local domain controllers.

So I did the first obvious thing that came to my mind, and tried to use Google DNS servers as my alternates. That did not work because they couldn't recognize other computers in the "forest". Now I'm no expert when it comes to DNS, so please forgive my ignorance. This DNS server is concerned only with Active Directory stuffs for the local network.

If I go ahead with migration, and it fails, then I will just have to go ahead and install a secondary DNS server I suppose. The problem I have here is that I am limited by the amount of Windows Server keys I have available (I have 2); however, I do have access to a Linux box running Debian Wheezy that I set-up two weeks ago as a Mantis server.

I could install Windows Server 2012 as a secondary DNS (I think) in a VM and use that, but then it seems like I will be wasting time, and probably the Windows key too, and if there's another way to do it with Linux that would be much better. Even better still, do I even need a secondary DNS server for migration at all? The hints said that during migration the original machine "might" not be found.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

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2 Answers 2

up vote 4 down vote accepted

All of these issues can be resolved by deploying a secondary domain controller

Full Stop. You should have at least two domain controllers available. Trust me. You really want at least two domain controllers. I think if you spend a bit of time reading about Active Directory design and how it works and you will see that multiple domain controllers should be your first priority in this situation.

CORRECTION: You should have at least two domain controllers available in a standard Windows Server domain. Windows Small Business Server and Windows Essenstial have different requirements.

I could install Windows Server 2012 as a secondary DNS (I think) in a VM and use that, but then it seems like I will be wasting time, and probably the Windows key too,

I assume when you mean as "a secondary DNS server" you mean creating another domain controller, as Active Directory and DNS are tightly coupled. In this case, I don't think it's a waste of time at all for the reason I previously mentioned. All you do, create a new virtual machine, add the Active Directory Services Role and wait for replication to finish. Pretty simple. You could even avoid purchasing another license key and just skate by the evaluation period for the sake of your migration and then destory the VM after your finished.

I haven't done any work with Essentials so I'm hesitant to offer any more advice since it is sort of a different beast from the standard Windows Servers offerings, but you might be fine without a secondary DNS server for your Role migration.

However - I really would question any plan involving Active Directory where you have a single domain controller. For even the smallest of businesses, virtualization and "The Cloud" really lowers the barrier of entry. There's less and less reasons these days to have a single standalone host running all your server roles.

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Cool. Thanks for the help. There is another small question I have though: When going through the installation wizard for Windows Server 2012 Essentials it basically says that "You can only have one server on your network that is running Windows Server 2012 Essentials, and that server must be a domain controller for the network". --- This is not a hard rule though if you are using one installation as a secondary domain controller? --- Also, if I complete the installation as a standard installation, it will create an entirely new domain (which I don't want). --- Feedback? Thanks again! –  Aubrey Robertson Jun 11 at 16:54
@AubreyRobertson - I don't know. I have spent all my time with regular Windows Server. Windows Small Business Server / Windows Server Essential are very different beasts. See Deploying Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials in an Existing Active Directory Environment. You might want to go re-read the docs and come back and ask a more targeted question. All I can say authoritatively, is in a standard domain you should have two domain controllers. –  kce Jun 11 at 17:36
@AubreyRobertson - Additionally if you have a standard domain and only a single domain controller you could easily create a second one just for the purposes of the migration as long as that is supported with Windows Essential. (RE: your licensing question) –  kce Jun 11 at 17:38

Create a new AD/DNS first on the new VM from scratch. You really want two of those in your environment if possible. Afterwards migrate the physical server to Hyper-V. I dont know what your using for DHCP but consider editing it to point to dns on the new VM you create.

If users are using AD to login to there systems having the second AD server up wont interfere with with there work while you migrate (assuming they have the updated dns as well).

Windows 2012 essentials is geared towards small-business deployments of 25 or less users with NO IT Staff.. It includes a extremely simplified server management interface and a very easy to follow domain creation wizard that is a little different then the what is usually included with other version of Windows 2012. Its basically the replacement for Windows SBS.

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Thank you. I think we are just using the local router for DCHP requests and not the server machine. –  Aubrey Robertson Jun 11 at 16:57

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