I have two Windows Server 2003 R2 Active Directory Domain Controllers which serve about 100 nodes. I need to upgrade to 2012 R2 on the same hardware (which exceed the minimum requirements). Since I can not do an in place upgrade from 2003 to 2012, what are my options using the same hardware?

We are purchasing a new web server as well. I'm considering using this server as a new domain controller to make the migration easier, then using the older dc as our web server once the migration is complete. But this still leaves me with the 2nd 2003 domain controller which I need to update.

I would be grateful for any assistance!

3 Answers 3

  • Take the new machine. Install 2012 R2 as DC.
  • Wipe one of the old DC, install 2012 R2 and make it a DC
  • Wipe other old DC, install 2012 R2 and make it a DC
  • Demote new machine (possibly reinstall it) and use it as web server.
  • Remember to upgrade the domain functional levels.

Done, without ever having only a single DC.

  • I think I might like this solution the best so far. This let's me keep the new server for it's intended role; I'd just be borrowing it for migration.
    – merlot
    Commented Apr 7, 2015 at 18:32

Take the new server and install Windows Server 2012 R2 on it.

Install the Hyper-V role.

Create two new Windows Server 2012 R2 virtual machines on this Hyper-V server.

Proceed with migrating AD from the old Domain Controllers to the two new Windows Server 2012 R2 virtual machines.

Create a new virtual machine for the web server.

IMO, there are very few reasons to use dedicated physical servers these days, and your use case is a perfect scenario for virtualizing your servers onto one or two physical Hyper-V host servers.

  • I've considered virtualizing the Domain Controllers, but past history shows me the hardware hasn't been the issue, upgrading the OS has. I tend to get as much longevity out of hardware as possible. Our current web server shipped with Windows Server 2000. If the 4 CPUs were 1Ghz (they are 667MHz), I'd just install 2012 R2, copy the website over and call it a day.
    – merlot
    Commented Apr 7, 2015 at 18:21

Mixing a web server (a commonly attacked service) with something as critical as your domain controller may not be the best idea. If it is easier for you due to it being on separate machines, you might consider just installing Hyper-V on a client machine that meets the requirements and P2Ving the existing domain controller to that. Assuming that your networking isn't convoluted, you could probably run the DC from the VM while you set up and migrate to the 2012 instance on the original hardware.

  • I'm not mixing the the web server with a domain server... I'd use the new server as a DC instead of a web server, then wipe the old DC and use it as the web server replacement.
    – merlot
    Commented Apr 7, 2015 at 18:23

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