Well I am faced with a very interesting situation... I am the only sys admin for a small company. The person who was here before me decided it best to install Exchange 2003 on the Primary Domain Controller (Server 2003). At this point, I am being asked to upgrade our Exchange server to 2010. I understand that Exchange can not be upgraded, but rather migrated to a new box. We are planning on purchasing a new server for this purpose.

It was brought to my attention recently that this could cause some serious problems and that I might just be better of starting a whole new domain with exchange 2010 then doing an AD migration...

I wanted to know if anyone else has been faced with a similar situation or if you have some advice on what to be aware of. To add some fuel to the fire, this will be the first Exchange insstall/migration for me so I'm somewhat of a newbie. Though I have a lot of Exchange administration experience.

Any help would be GREATLY appreciated!!


  • I have found this article as a possible solution (doing a swing migration): amset.info/exchange/migration.asp Would this be a possible option? (2003 to start, upgrade later once the mess has cleared) Once Exchange has been moved to a new server, how safe would it be to remove exchange from the old DC? or would it be wise to not only migrate to a different exchange server but also setup a new DC and make it primary (take over FISMO rolls) then remove old exchange and demote old DC? – user31164 Jan 8 '10 at 20:52
  • There are no "primary domain controller" or "PDC" computers in Active Directory. There are only "domain controllers" some of which might hold unique FSMO roles. Otherwise, they're all the same. None is "primary". – Evan Anderson Jan 8 '10 at 21:22
  • Right, i used Primary as a loose term meaning holder of all 5 roles... – user31164 Jan 8 '10 at 22:08

The "swing migration" is typically done when upgrading one version of Windows Small Business Server (SBS) to another. You didn't mention SBS, and that migration method really isn't applicable in your situation.

You don't need a new domain to do what you're looking for. Hopefully you haven't gotten too far along with it and can start over, because you never want a multi-domain (or worse, multi-forest) Active Directory implementation if you can help it.

The migration from a single-server Exchange 2003 installation to Exchange 2010 is incredibly painless.

  • Join the server that will be hosting Exchange 2010 to your existing Active Directory domain as a member server. It's not recommended that Exchange be installed on a domain controller. I'll tell you that I've done it w/ Exchange 2007 before and it works fine, but it's not recommended and I've never tried it with Exchange 2010. If you want to make the E2K10 machine a domain controller, though, promote it now. (You really should have a dedicated machine to be a domain controller, and having at least two domain controllers is very helpful. You could continue to use the old server as a DC.)

  • Verify that your existing Exchange 2003 server has Service Pack 2 for Exchange 2003 installed. If it isn't, install it.

  • Install Exchange 2010 onto the new server. (Obviously, if you need to move your mailbox database or transaction logs to specific disks do that now before you start moving mailboxes over to the new machine.)

  • Read up on using mailbox move requests to move mailboxes from the Exchange 2003 Server to the new Exchange 2010 server. It's a very painless process, and there's no configuration changes that will need to be made on the user end.

  • After all the mailboxes are moved and the users have accessed their mailboxes at least once via Outlook you can begin the process of http://support.microsoft.com/kb/152959">retiring the Exchange 2003 server.

Internet email will continue to flow in and out of the organization via Exchange 2003. You'll want to transition your Internet email flow to the Exchange 2010 installation, though. That will involve creating a "Send Connector" on the Exchange 2010 side, an anonymous SMTP receive connector, and changing firewall rules to divert the mail flow.

You'll also want to be sure that you've got OWA on Exchange 2010 available if your users were using it. That will probably involve firewall rule changes.

Is your backup management software ready to support Exchange 2010? If not, think about that.

You may want to read up on Exchange Autodiscovery. It can have ramifications for your SSL certificate and DNS infrastructure, assuming you don't want to get little annoying warnings from Outlook. Have a look at these for some good background (the second refers to Exchange 2007, but it hasn't change dramatically in Exchange 2010).

You'll definitely want to review Microsoft's documentation on upgrading and coexisting. I'm leaving a lot of little details out, but it's really a pretty painless process.

  • +1 Migrating to 2010 is quite painless. It's a lot easier than it seems to be! – Joshua Jan 8 '10 at 21:42

Brian - Found a similar situation. Might not be as gloomy as I was worried it was. Swing migration of Exchange and DC (as you found) might be the best bet. Much better than a new AD domain, which was my original concern.

  • -1 - That thread is from 2005, and doesn't apply to Exchanage 2007 even, let alone Exchange 2010. "Swing migrations" are a Windows SBS term, and aren't really related to Exchange. Exchange upgrades / migrations take the form of "Move Mailbox" migrations, most often. – Evan Anderson Jan 8 '10 at 21:24
  • Yeah, that's what I am finding. This post seems helpful: forums.techarena.in/server-migration/1142653.htm Particularly what "Meinolf Weber" says at that bottom. Seems like it's doable by slowly moving services off that single server. Like first promoting a new DC then transfering all 5 roles to the new server, including DNS/DHCP etc. Second, setting up the new Exchange Server and slowly migrating everything over. Lastly i would need to remove Exchange from the old server first, then I could demote it from a DC. So in the end I will have separate servers which is the goal. – user31164 Jan 8 '10 at 22:05

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