We're currently running Exchange 2003 SP2 in a Server 2003 Native Mode AD forest with a single domain and two sites. We want to get to Server 2008 R2 AD DCs and Exchange 2010 SP1.

We're also starting to leverage virtualization (VMWare ESX/ESXi 4.0/4.1) and a new SAN.

I'm wondering if I should focus on upgrading the domain controllers first, or exchange first and the DCs later. I won't be able to have all 2008 DCs until I add new hardware at my second site, so I'd have a mixed mode 2003/2008 domain for some time, and we will have one DC be a physical box versus relying entirely on virtual systems.

Are there any issues adding a 2008 DC to a 2003 native mode domain that would impact Exchange 2003 in some unexpected way?

Just looking for hidden gotchas, plus the best strategy in terms of what to tackle and in what order.

I saw a very useful "Rapid Transition Guide" for Exchange 2010 that I downloaded from a thread on Experts Exchange: http://www.experts-exchange.com/Software/Server_Software/Email_Servers/Exchange/Q_26626732.html

And I own a copy of the MS Exchange Server 2010 Inside and Out, which is helpful.


As long as the forest functional level is at least 2003, I would start with the upgrade of exchange from 2003 to 2010. The upgrade of the domain from 2003 to 2008 is relatively simple compared to exchange and any issues you run into won't be compounded by the 2008 DC upgrade complexity. Once the exchange upgrade is complete it will certainly not impact exchange to upgrade.


There is a potential issue that I ran into. We had a 2003 native domain with 2003 R2 DCs when we implemented Exchange 2010. The setup of Exchange 2010 went smoothly with no issues. However, once we introduced two 2008 R2 DCs into the domain (we did not bump up the function level of the domain/ forest) we started having issues with our Hub Transport servers. Messages would randomly get stuck in the submissions queue on either one of our two Hub Servers. With the help of a Microsoft Case we traced the issue back to being a problem between the 2003 & 2008 DCs communication. We had to apply KB939820 to our 2003 DCs to resolve the issue.

After applying the hotfix we have not had any issues.

  • out of curiosity why not just remove the 2003 DCs? – Jim B Mar 29 '11 at 21:49
  • RIM does not support the FSMO roles being hosted on Win2k8 R2 servers. We couldn't move the roles over so the 2003 DCs stay for now. – HostBits Mar 29 '11 at 22:07
  • AHH RIM - always a pestilence. – Jim B Mar 29 '11 at 22:10
  • Yes unfortunately, they are the also the reason have have not moved to Exchange 2010 SP1, which would enable some very useful features. – HostBits Mar 29 '11 at 22:12
  • What version of BES does that affect? – Jim B Mar 30 '11 at 14:07

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