Round Up15 Tips For A Smooth Migration To Exchange Server 2003

Jenna Lyday

If you've heard that it's difficult to migrate from Exchange 5.5 to Exchange Server 2003, don't worry—there are steps you can take to simplify the upgrade process.

While the list that follows does not represent an exhaustive Exchange deployment plan, it does represent the situations we often see in customer environments that adversely affect the deployment process.

1 Use the Microsoft® Exchange Server Deployment Tools. These are new in the 2003 release of Exchange Server, and will greatly help in guiding you through a successful deployment process. Included is an array of tools designed to diagnose and/or verify a wide variety of conditions that you might encounter.

2 Keep in mind that Exchange Server 2003 makes widespread use of DNS in all its sundry forms. Because Exchange is a major consumer of DNS, it will quickly and effectively expose any related issues. Steps 3 through 8 will help you ensure DNS is ready before installing Exchange Server. (For more about DNS, see the How IT Works column by Regis Donovan in this issue.)

3 Confirm that your Mail Exchange (MX) records are pointing to the correct server or IP address.

4 Verify that your DNS server is configured to use forwarders for addresses it is unable to resolve internally, instead of being pointed directly to an external DNS resolver. This is a good rule in general.

5 Check that your local member servers are pointed to your local DNS server and not to an external resolver. The trick here is that you want to be able to find the other machines on your LAN and not just machines on the Internet.

6 Certify that the Domain Controller (DC) acting as your schema master is using a DNS server that is accessible by your local servers. If the schema master is the DNS server, make sure that it is configured to use its own IP address for DNS and is the preferred DNS server of the member servers.

7 Confirm on the first page of Properties on the zone that your DNS server is configured to Allow Dynamic Update.

8 Verify that your DNS records contain entries under the domain, labeled _mcdcs, _sites, _tcp, and _udp, in addition to the Host records. If you do not see these entries and have already verified that Dynamic Update is enabled, go to your DCs and type "net stop netlogon" followed by "net start netlogon" from a command prompt. This will restart the Netlogon service and cause the DC to reregister its service resource records (SRV records).

9 Verify that you can resolve the name of your mail server and your DC(s) by both short name and Fully Qualified Domain Name (FQDN).

10Ensure that the first Exchange 2003 server that you install is not a cluster if your current e-mail environment contains Exchange 5.5 and no subsequent Exchange versions. Some Exchange services are supported on a cluster, but some are not. One of the services not supported on a cluster is the Site Replication Service (SRS), which allows Exchange 2003 and Exchange 5.5 to be on speaking terms. It's important that the first server that goes in is able to create the SRS and start communications.

11Install the Active Directory® Connector (ADC) and configure Connection Agreements (CAs) if your Exchange organization is Exchange 5.5. I strongly recommend that you use the ADC Tools, included with your ADC installation, to generate these CAs.

12Check that all ADC servers are upgraded to the proper Exchange 2003 version before you embark on your Exchange 2003 rollout if you are upgrading from Exchange 2000 mixed mode. I also strongly recommend that after upgrading your ADC servers you use the ADC Tools to revalidate any existing CAs.

13Remember that if you have third-party applications running on your Exchange server, you should check with your vendor to confirm that they have a compatible version available, and acquire it for installation on your new Exchange server. If your migration is an upgrade of an existing Exchange deployment, uninstall your third-party applications prior to the upgrade and reinstall the new version after the upgrade. (Note: upgrading to Microsoft Exchange 2003 is supported only on an Exchange 2000 server.)

14If you are upgrading from Exchange 2000, verify that you account for services that are no longer supported in Exchange 2003. These include:

  • Microsoft Mobile Information Server
  • Instant Messaging Service
  • Exchange Chat Service
  • Exchange 2000 Conferencing Server
  • Key Management Service
  • cc:Mail connector
  • MS Mail connector

If any of these services are running on the Exchange server you plan to upgrade, you should remove them with Exchange setup before you move on. If you're going to need any of these services, you will need to keep at least one Exchange 2000 server available to run the service.

15Make sure the time onthe server that you are installing on is in sync with the time on your DCs. If the time is off by more than five minutes, Kerberos authentication will fail and you won't be able to perform any operations that require permissions on the Active Directory. If the times are out of sync, you can type "net time /set \\<DomainController>" from the command prompt on the Exchange server to fix it.

Comprehensive information about planning an Exchange deployment is available from the Exchange Server 2003 Technical Documentation Library, where you can find resources such as Planning an Exchange Server 2003 Messaging System and Exchange Server 2003 Deployment Guide. In addition, in the 2003 release of Exchange Server you'll find deployment tools, which will further help in guiding you through a successful deployment process. But to start, consider these 15 guidelines and you'll have a smoother transition to Exchange Server 2003.

Jenna Lyday is a Software Test Engineer on the Microsoft Exchange team, where she has been testing Exchange deployments for the last four years. Previously, she was an Exchange administrator.

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