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Migrating from legacy servers has always been a difficult task for IT admins. Especially if the legacy server is a Windows Server file server, there may be many shares, permissions, files, folders, and other components you must duplicate on a new server to assume those resources properly in a seamless way.
What is Windows Server 2019 Storage Migration? ^
Windows Server 2008 and R2 went out of support earlier this month (January 2019), and older Windows Server operating systems like Windows Server 2003 are long out of support. Thus, if you are running these Windows Server releases, you need to think about how you can migrate to newer, supported Windows Server platforms.
Thankfully, Microsoft has realized the need to provide a tool to make this process seamless for IT admins. They can perform the migration process in a way that allows copying all data, shares, and permissions without resulting in missed permissions, resources, or even data loss.
A shocking number of legacy Windows Server operating systems are still out in production. For example, a surprising number of environments still have Windows Server 2003 installed.
Windows Server 2019 Storage Migration is a new extension available for installation inside WAC. What are its capabilities?
- Take inventory of your servers that are migration candidates (including files, users, permissions, etc.).
- Select a destination server.
- Transfer all files, file shares, and security permissions from the source to the destination server.
- Assume the identity of the source server on the destination server (cutover).
- Coordinate and manage multiple migration processes from a single WAC console.
The steps above all take place within a three-phase process:
Source servers can include:
- Windows Server 2003 and newer
Destination servers can include:
- Windows Server 2012 R2 and newer, including Semi-Annual Channel releases
Let's look at installing the Windows Server 2019 Storage Migration extension inside WAC.
Storage migration prerequisites ^
A prerequisite for the Storage Migration service is to have WAC installed. As most are aware, WAC is the new method moving forward for managing Windows Server installations. In fact, with Windows Server 2019, Microsoft is certainly touting WAC as the tool for managing their latest Windows Server operating system.
In the walkthrough below, we have already installed WAC in Gateway Server mode as a designated gateway server for accessing and managing Windows Server connections.
With Storage Migration, the gateway server basically coordinates the entire operation between a legacy Windows Server and a modern Windows Server version like 2019. Also keep in mind that you can install WAC on the target Windows Server that will be the destination for migrating data from a legacy Windows Server. However, in this case, we will use a standalone WAC gateway mode server.
For an overview of the different WAC installation modes, check out the official overview of the installation options.
Installing Windows Server Storage Migration Service ^
To install Windows Server Storage Migration Service, launch WAC and navigate to Settings > Extensions. The available Storage Migration Service extension is a bit non-intuitive. WAC lists the extension as msft.sme.storage-migration.
Highlight the extension and click the Install button.
WAC will install the extension and reload the WAC interface in your browser. After the interface reloads, navigate back to Settings > Extensions > Installed extensions. Verify you see the Storage Migration Service listed. You may have an Update available as shown below. If so, highlight the extension and click the Update button.
After updating, you will see the same behavior. The WAC interface will reload. Navigate back to the Installed extensions under Extensions. You should see the Windows Server Storage Migration Service at version 1.83.1. Microsoft seems to have gone through quite a few extension versions along the way.
Running the Windows Server Storage Migration Service ^
When you launch the Storage Migration Service on your WAC gateway, you will see the pop-up box giving an overview of the service. Note: You may see a box asking you to install the Storage Migration Service. Even though you have installed the extension, you may need to install the Windows Features. The WAC dashboard for the Storage Migration Service will install it for you when you initiate the install from there.
Click the button to create a New job for the Storage Migration Service.
It will prompt you to enter the name of the source server you want to migrate.
Enter credentials that will allow you to connect to the source server.
Add the source device for the Storage Migration.
Enter the device name. In this case, it is a legacy Windows Server 2008 R2 server.
Scan the source Windows Server.
WAC enumerates shares on the source Windows Server.
Enter connection credentials for the destination Windows Server.
Enter the destination Windows Server name, scan the server, map the volumes, and proceed.
Decide how you want to handle any conflicts during data copy as well as retry values.
Validate the source and destination devices for any issues.
Validation of both servers completes successfully.
Start the data transfer. This includes folders, shares, permissions, and users.
The transfer finishes successfully.
Cutover phase ^
For the cutover phase, enter the credentials for the source and destination devices. These will also be cached from previous steps.
Choose how you want to handle the network settings migration. The Storage Migration wizard will show current values on both servers and allow you to define the IP address you want to assume for the server. DHCP is also an option. You must choose the destination network adapter to assign settings to as well.
Network settings migration during the Storage Migration cutover phase
Validate the settings defined for the cutover process.
The validation process completes successfully.
Now you are ready to begin the cutover process. This will cut over resources from the source server to the destination server. It will rename the source server, and the target server will assume the identity of the source server.
The process will reboot the servers during the various rename operations.
After the migration finishes successfully, your target server will have assumed the identity of the source server and should answer to any file shares it has assumed. As you can see below, the target Windows Server 2019 server has assumed the legacy WIN2K8FS01 hostname.
Wrapping up ^
The Windows Server Storage Migration Service is a great new tool in the hands of IT admins who often have the challenging task of migrating from legacy platforms up to supported versions of Windows Server. The new tool is a great addition to the already powerful WAC.
As shown, it's easy to install the extension via WAC. The actual Storage Migration process itself is very intuitive and "wizard driven" from the WAC interface. It performs all the heavy lifting of copying data, permissions, share names, and even assuming identity.
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If you have the task of migrating from legacy servers to supported platforms, be sure to test out the new Windows Server Storage Migration Service. It can make your life much easier!