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I know I'm behind the power curve here, but in light of the discontinuation of Microsoft support for Server 2003, Exchange 2003 and Windows XP, I'm beginning the process of replacing old servers with new ones.

Current network configuration is as follows:

 Two different sites integrated into one domain. 

 At site 1: 

  1 DNS/DHCP server running Server 2003
  1 "WEB" server that manages shared folders and our content filter
  1 Exchange Server 2003 managing 50-60 staff mailboxes.

 At site 2: 

  1 DNS/DHCP Server running Server 2008 R2
  1 "APPSVR" managing software databases, roaming profile storage and content filter

The eventual goal is to remove all 2003 servers with new ones running at least 2008 R2... Long-term goal would be to make the eventual transition to Server 2012 and Exchange 2013 throughout the domain but that's not until I've gotten our exchange server upgraded to 2010. (My understanding is that making the transition straight from Exchange 2003 to 2013 would be "difficult"...so the plan is to get the domain up to a 2008 R2/Exchange 2010 standard...then reassess the need to upgrade again to Server 2012/Exchange 2013.)

My question is about the best practices of making this transition. Replacing the exchange server is somewhat of a high priority due to the fact that there is extremely limited remaining space of the Exchange server's hard drive. (I was hired into this position and there's a lot of reverse engineering/server neglect that I'm having to deal with as I get this domain "up to speed")

My intent is to get a new 2008 R2/Exchange 2010 server set up and integrated into the domain, after which I would migrate all of our existing mailboxes to the new Exchange server/database and decommission/re-purpose the old Exchange 2003 server.

After that point, the plan was to replace the DNS/DHCP(2003) server at site 1 with a new server. I'm considering an implementation of VMWare to set up this DNS/DHCP server to also manage the content filter but that's another option I'll examine closer as I make progress with the domain upgrade.

The questions I'd like answered before I dive into this project are:

1) Is it feasible to replace the exchange server before replacing the DNS/DHCP servers? Will the current Server 2003 DNS/DHCP server be able to communicate with the AD/DS on the new Exchange 2010 server?

2) Is it feasible to migrate the 2003 mailboxes to the new Exchange 2010 without great risk of incompatibility/data loss?

3) I've seen several articles about the installation/replacement of an exchange server but all articles have also included multiple domains; whether migration of an exchange server from one domain to another or multiple domains with multiple Exchange servers. I'm a little apprehensive about the configuration process for the new Exchange 2010 server. I want to make the migration as seamless as possible. Looking for specific guidance on mirroring configuration from Exchange 2003 into Exchange 2010.

Apologies in advance for potentially leaving out important information relevant to these processes. Any guidance/correction is greatly appreciated.

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1) Is it feasible to replace the exchange server before replacing the DNS/DHCP servers? Will the current Server 2003 DNS/DHCP server be able to communicate with the AD/DS on the new Exchange 2010 server?

Yes, definitely. There will be some AD schema updates during the install that will be required, but Exchange 2010 can run just fine in a 2003 domain environment.

2) Is it feasible to migrate the 2003 mailboxes to the new Exchange 2010 without great risk of incompatibility/data loss?

That's hard to assess without knowing your 2003 Exchange setup and any existing issues. But the migration from 2003 to Exch2010 is actually not that bad. If you have Public Folders, that might be a little more work. Usually people struggle the most with dealing with the certs and the internal/external OWA certs.

3) I've seen several articles about the installation/replacement of an exchange server but all articles have also included multiple domains; whether migration of an exchange server from one domain to another or multiple domains with multiple Exchange servers. I'm a little apprehensive about the configuration process for the new Exchange 2010 server. I want to make the migration as seamless as possible. Looking for specific guidance on mirroring configuration from Exchange 2003 into Exchange 2010.

If you are truly apprehensive, hire a consultant. You'll learn a lot in the process and the project will go better. If email is critical, I would definitely go this route. If it isn't critical then look on Technet at the migration articles such as:

http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dd638130%28v=exchg.141%29.aspx

http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ff805040%28v=exchg.141%29.aspx

http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/aa998604%28v=exchg.141%29.aspx

as well as msexchange.org. If you run into specific issues you need addressed, ask them here, but that final question is more of a "book answer" which is beyond the normal scope of Serverfault.

  • Thank you TheCleaner, I will review the technet articles and see if I'm comfortable enough to make the migration myself. For the record, we don't have any public folders to migrate, it's just the individual staff mailboxes. Again, thank you! – Beeder456 May 15 '14 at 12:09

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