Some companies still run Exchange 2003 and are content with its performance. However, Exchange 2003 is slowly getting close to the end of its lifecycle. Besides the end of mainstream support, there are other good reasons to switch to a newer Exchange version. In particular, Exchange 2010 offers many features that are just too good to be ignored. In addition to high scalability, the most welcome feature is the Database Availability Groups (DAG). It has never been easier to offer High Availability services for your users. But what about the migration to Exchange 2010; is it as simple as building a DAG?
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The migration certainly is easier than what most administrators will expect. Microsoft also offers some nice guides, such as the Exchange Server Deployment Assistant. Though I strictly followed the guide, I encountered more than one problem. As problem solving can take quite some time, I decided to share my experience. This is by no means a complete migration guide or an alternative to the documentation available on TechNet or elsewhere. It is merely a supplement to the Exchange Server Deployment Assistant.
Before you even consider starting the migration, you have to plan your Exchange deployment and consider such things as Exchange 2010 System Requirements and Storage Design. You also have to understand the different roles an Exchange Server can perform: Client Access Server, Hub Transport Server, Mailbox Server, and Edge Server. In the transition process I didn’t rely on a specific UI, as sometimes it’s easier to use the GUI and sometimes it’s faster to type the command in the shell. So if you have any aversions to shells, it is better to get rid of them soon because you have to use the shell to manage Exchange Server 2010.
The first thing you have to do after you finish the planning stage is upgrade the Active Directory. To prepare the Active Directory for Exchange Server 2010, I recommend using the command shell. The GUI setup is supposed to automatically do all the Active Directory upgrades in the background during install, but for some reason that didn’t work on my machine. Besides, you have more control over the process and you will learn more if you do one step after another in the shell and not just have the GUI do everything automatically.
So let us begin. Open a command shell, change to your installation media, and execute the following three commands:
Exchange Server 2010 uses E-Mail Address Policies instead of Exchange Server’s 2003 Recipient Update Service. By running this command, you prepare the Active Directory for the coexistence of both.
This command will create a connection to the schema master and update the schema with attributes specific to Exchange 2010.
This command prepares the local Active Directory for Exchange 2010, for example it creates a new OU called “Microsoft Exchange Security Groups”. In this container you’ll find a few default security groups that are quite handy for the administration of Exchange Server 2010.
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After all three commands have finished successfully, you are ready to install the first Exchange Server 2010 in your domain. I will write about the deployment of the different Exchange roles in upcoming articles.