Microsoft Exchange 2003 – Decommissioning 5.5 servers

Introduction to Decommissioning Exchange 5.5 servers

I will let you into a secret, I never thought there would be any need to worry about getting rid of those Exchange 5.5 servers – just load them into the skip.  Apart from being wasteful, just removing the old Exchange servers may have unpleasant side-effects.  In particular watch out for routing problems if you just pull the plug on the Exchange 5.5 servers.

Topics for Decommissioning Exchange 5.5 servers


Move Mailbox

This is the easy part of decommissioning Exchange 5.5.  Some people refer to Move Mailbox as the ‘Swing Migration Method’, the idea is to transfer all the mailboxes from the old Exchange 5.5 Server (or Exchange 2000) to the new Exchange 2003 member server.  It’s an easy procedure, launch the Active Directory Users and Computers, select your users and then Exchange tasks.  You can even schedule the move in the middle of the night to save disruption.

The only problem with Move Mailbox is that you may believe that the job is migration is complete.  As we will see, there are other considerations before you decommission that old server.

Decommission tip for Exchange 2003 Server - Run SetupIf you run setup on the Exchange 5.5 server and select Remove All.  Any problems should come to light.

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Bridgehead and Routing changes.

Make sure that one of the new Exchange 2003 servers is a bridgehead for the routing group.  In addition, if you need to change the RGM (Routing Group Master), launch the Exchange System Manager and navigate to the Routing Groups folder, expand members, select the new server, right-click and choose Set as Master.

Naturally, check the queues on the Exchange 5.5 server to see that there is no waiting email.  What you also need to do is make sure that SRS (Site Replication Service) is running on the Exchange 2003 server.  Now that the Exchange 5.5 server is no longer needed for directory replication traffic, so you can remove it.

RUS (Recipient Update Service)

When you upgrade, remember to re-home RUS before you decommission Exchange 5.5.  Navigate to the Recipients folder, RUS, Properties, General, and browse for the new Exchange 2003 server that will run RUS.

Offline Address Book

The Offline Address book is configured on each Mailbox.  Once you have moved all the Exchange 5.5 users to their new server, they will automatically pick up the new Offline Address book.  Surprisingly, it’s in-place Exchange 2000 upgrades that give the greatest problem.  This is because the new Offline Address book has upgraded to unicode format.  The solution is transparent if you launch the Exchange System Manager, drill down to the Address Lists and check the property sheets.

Public Folders

Make sure that both the Public Folder contents and the hierarchy have been replicated to the new Exchange 2003 Server.  Also, check the system folders, for example the Schedule+ Busy Free folder.  Before you decommission the Exchange 5.5 server make sure that the replication status is: In Sync.

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Moving to Exchange 2003 will be a complex project.  Make sure that you get the final decommissioning stage right.  You need to re-home, RUS, check the bridgehead and routing group masters, and replicate public folders to an Exchange 2003 server.

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