Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 – Migration Advice

Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 – Migration AdviceMicrosoft Exchange Server 2007 - Migration and Transition

What makes describing your transition to Exchange Server 2007 difficult is the sheer number of upgrade paths.  Let me start by clarifying the terminology:

Transition – Is the latest buzzword to describe moving mailboxes from Exchange 2000 /3, to a brand new Exchange 2007 server in the same Exchange Organization.

Migration – Microsoft has decided to apply a stricter logic to the word ‘Migration’.  It describes the bigger step of moving mailboxes from another email system to Exchange Server 2007.  For example, you could migrate users from Lotus Notes, a UNIX email system, or even from an Exchange Organization in a different company, to a brand new Organization running Exchange Server 2007.

Topics for Transition to Exchange Server 2007

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General Advice – What to Expect from Microsoft Exchange Server 2007

Is Exchange Server 2007 really easier than Exchange 2003?

Can it be true that Exchange Server 2007 is easier than Exchange 2003?  Guy says it depends what you mean by easier!  Exchange 2007 is more straightforward to get started, but it has more individual components to consider than Exchange 2003.  Yes there are new exiting features, but each item needs time to evaluate.  It’s true that the wizards are cleverer, and they guide you surely through the necessary configuration, but there are more of them to get to know. 

The addition of Exchange 2007 to the server family inevitably results in more compatibility squabbles with Exchange 2003, Exchange 2000 and Exchange 5.5.  I admit that the relationship between Exchange 2007 and Exchange 5.5 is tenuous because you have decommission or upgrade the Exchange 5.5 before you can install Server 2007.

A benefit of transitioning to Exchange 2007 is that each component is bigger, faster and clever than its counterpart in Exchange 2003.  Yet this does not mean the whole Exchange Organization is easier to manage because more components means greater complexity.  Another factor you soon discover is that a favorite Exchange 2000 /3 feature has been decommissioned, renaming or de-emphasising.  Such changes cannot make Exchange 2007 easier than Exchange 2003, but fortunately each change makes sense and you soon get used to the new names and features.

In summary, each individual Exchange 2007 feature is easier to configure, but you need more planning to decide which components suit your organization.  One constant theme is that Exchange Server 2007 looks simple but efficient on the surface, but when you investigate any given component, it seems both powerful and complex.

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My Mission

My mission is to outline general transition strategies, and then highlight trusty tactics that work which ever path you take to reach Exchange Server 2007.  Good news, Microsoft has always been good at migrations, after all it’s in their best interests to make the latest and most expensive systems easily accessible.  Moreover, they want to pick up business from Lotus Notes, UNIX, mainframes as well as Microsoft’s older systems like Exchange 5.5.  As for practical help, what will make your transition easy is to seek guidance from Microsoft’s installation wizards.

The best migration advice that I can give you is begin by identifying your correct track.  If you are upgrading (transitioning) from Exchange 2000 to Exchange Server 2007, then don’t try the Exchange 2003 transition methods; instead, seek instructions dedicated to replacing Exchange 2000.

The task of planning a Microsoft Exchange organization is divided into two distinct subtasks: designing the overall Exchange organization, followed by placing individual Exchange servers in sites to optimize message transfer. This approach results in a logical placement of resources while focusing on literally delivering the users’ email.

Beginning at the organizational level.  Establish organization-wide naming conventions, determine the number of routing groups you need, their fix their boundaries and provide multiple links.  At the server level, you should determine the function(s) each server performs, and then plan the server configuration to accommodate those roles.

Exchange 2007 Transition ChecklistExchange 2007 Transition Checklist

  • Before you buy Exchange Server 2007 decide which combination you need: RTM or SP1. Standard or Enterprise. 64-bit (32-bit is only for testing).
  • Upon which operating system will you install Exchange Server 2007?  (Windows Server 2003, or Server 2008)
  • Which version of Active Directory will you use? (Windows Server 2003 or 2008)
  • Where is the DNS server which resolves your Exchange 2007 servers and services?
  • Check the Function Level, is it Windows 2000 Native or later?
  • What about the Forest Function Level?  Is it already Window Server 2003?
  • Check the Exchange Organization name, and also the default email address.
  • Raise the Exchange Operation mode to: Native Mode (no pre-Exchange 2000 servers).
  • For multiple sites check the Global Catalog requirements.
  • Will there be an extended period with heterogeneous Exchange Servers?  How long will it last, what will be the replacement sequence for Exchange 2000, Exchange 2003.
  • A good question is: ‘How can we use the Exchange 2007 transition to become more efficient?’  For example, take the opportunity to consolidate with fewer Exchange 2007 servers than Exchange 2000/3 servers.
  • Supplementary question: ‘What other email improvements can we implement at the same time?’  For example, embrace Unified Messaging, take more advantage of OWA.  Also investigating Journaling so that we conform to legal requirements to keep company email.
  • Plan for co-existence with different versions of Exchange Server.  Remember that there is no in-place upgrade even from Exchange 2003, thus there will be phase of co-existence where communication between all Exchange servers is vital.
  • Repercussions when you decommission the Exchange 2000 / 3 servers.  For example, move the Offline Address Book and the Recipient Update Service to Exchange Server 2007.  Check, and if necessary, remove legacy routing groups and also legacy connectors.
  • (Do any of the later checklist items affect your original choice of Exchange Server 2007 DVD?)

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Easy Transition Stuff

64-bit hardware is an absolute requirement for Exchange Server 2007.  Maybe this constraint is an opportunity to get new kit!

Exchange 2007 introduces the server ‘Role’ concept; Microsoft provide top-notch wizards to help you add these 5 roles: Mailbox, CAS (Client Access Server), Bridgehead, Unified Messaging or Gateway.

Decide on your tactics.  Would it be best to have few servers with multiple roles, or alternatively a different server for almost every role. 

Talking of tactics, embrace the simple but effective concept of building a new Exchange Server 2007 from scratch.  Then calling for the Move Mailbox wizard to swing all the users mailboxes from the old server(s) to the new Exchange 2007 server with the Mailbox role.

Forget about an in-place upgrade from Exchange 2003 or even 2000; thankfully, this transition method is not allowed for Exchange Server 2007.  Do begin with a clean install of the underlying operating system (Windows Server 2008 [best], or Windows Server 2003).

Forget about Exchange 5.5 servers.  Because of changes to the Function Level, pre-2000 Exchange servers are not allowed to co-exists with Exchange Server 2007.

Medium Migration Difficulty

We can divide the task of planning a Microsoft Exchange organization into two distinct subtasks:  firstly, designing the overall Exchange organization. Secondly, placing individual Exchange servers in sites to optimize the messaging system. This approach provides you with a logical placement of resources developed with users’ needs in mind.

Check, and if necessary, adjust the Domain and the Forest Function Levels.  Also check that the existing Exchange’s operation mode is native.

Make sure DNS is working properly, and the Exchange 2007 servers are registered along with any MX records.

Investigate PowerShell cmdlets.  Trust me, one day you will configure most of your Exchange Server 2007 settings from the command line.  If you believe me, little-by-little you will build a formidable repertoire of PowerShell commands.

Hardish Stuff

Write down a clear vision of what you want to achieve with your email system.  Give the vision time to crystallize, parts may be fuzzy at first, but gradually their focus sharpens.

Once you have a master plan, breakdown each task into items, and then investigate each component thoroughly.  In Guy’s opinion, nothing beats a test network where you can get all the mistakes out of your system without the prying eyes of the users, or your boss.

For example, once your Exchange client has been decided, or imposed, check how that client accesses your Exchange 2007 Server.  OWA 2007, Outlook 2003, Outlook 2007 all have slightly different requirements and features.  Oh yes, start by adding the CAS (Client Access Server) role to at least one of your Exchange 2007 servers.

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What’s in a Name?

In practical terms, when you migrate to Exchange 2007 keep your eye on the Exchange Organization name.  This name is crucial and cannot be changed easily.  Therefore during installation, watch carefully to see which Organization Name the wizard is suggesting.

20% of Exchange techies are in for a surprise when the check these four Exchange related names.  Now, these names don’t have to match, but you do need to know what they are.

  • Exchange Organization Name – Maybe it’s plain YourExOrganization, and not YourExOrganization.com
  • Email domain addresses, for example: admin@YourExOrganization.com.
  • Active Directory Domain – Is it a root domain?  For example YourDom.com, or is child domain Worcester.YourDom.com
  • DNS Name – Fascinating to know if the DNS name is identical to the Active Directory Domain name.

It does not matter if these names have completely different stems, what does matter is that you configure the correct information, it is vital that you and your server are on the same page. 

One more point, Exchange Server 2007 member servers don’t take kindly to being renamed.  Unlike other member servers, changing the name on an Exchange server causes all matter of immediate and pent up problems, thus make a naming plan and stick to your names.

Plan for Exchange Server Co-existence – understand the limitations

You can manage only Exchange 2007 servers with the Exchange 2007 Management Console, and Exchange 2003 servers.  The reciprocal is also true, you cannot configure Exchange 2007 objects from Exchange Server 2003.  In order to complete decommissioning, there is an exception, it is possible to delete Exchange 2003 objects such as connectors.

Exchange Server 2007, Exchange 2003 and Exchange 2000 servers can all exist and function within your Exchange organization, however there are restrictions.  When in doubt use the native console to manage Exchange 2007 or Exchange 2003 objects.

Features Removed from Exchange Server 2007

  • Network News Transfer Protocol (NNTP)
  • Instant Messaging service
  • Exchange Chat Service
  • Exchange 2000 Conferencing Server
  • Microsoft Mobile Information Server
  • Key Management Service
  • Novell GroupWise connector
  • cc:Mail connector
  • MS Mail connector

Planning Advice – Preparing to Migrate to Exchange 2007 Server

Shoot for the stars. Start by asking for the moon. Think of your ideal outcome then work towards that vision.  In the case of an email system, my suggestion would be to match Exchange 2007 with Windows Server 2008, and on the client side, Outlook 2007 or OWA 2007.  The further you move away from these matched components, the more complex your transition will be.  Common sense dictates that the more disparate the system that you are managing, the more problems that you will have both now and in the future. 

Beware of spending time and money fire-fighting old systems.  Think of the advantages of spending that same time and money achieving your vision of a modern client server email system.  Decisions are often made on the basis of : ‘How much is our time worth?’.  A better approach would be – work smart.  Rather than spending time on work-arounds to retain Exchange 5.5 servers in the branch offices, develop negotiating skills to persuade the financial director to free the purse strings and invest in a native Exchange 2007 system.

Making the transition to Exchange 2007 is easier than upgrading from Exchange 5.5 to Exchange 2000.   Much of the initial work is sifting through a long list of possible factors, to find the handful tasks that apply to your situation.  What makes my advisory task so complex is that everyone has a different list of tasks for their particular transition.  My mission is to help you eliminate factors that don’t apply to your situation, while a focus on those elements that are vital for the success of your Exchange 2007 upgrade.

How to transition to Exchange 2007 – Practical Tasks

Summary: Transition to Exchange Server 2007

Let us begin with vision of the best outcome. Then by spending time deciding on the sequence of transition events, If you choose to transition to the very latest client / server system, with luck and skill, many niggling peripheral tasks may suddenly become redundant.

Guy cannot help wondering if the assertion ‘System A is easier than system B’, is unhelpful marketing speak. It would be better to say that system B will be better, and furthermore, the migration / transition / upgrade will have its own personality.

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See more Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 topics:

Exchange 2007 Home   • Compatibility  • Recipients   • Eseutil  • Edge  • Free Syslog Analyser

Install   • Server Roles   • CAS Role   • Hub Transport  • SMTP Connector   • NDRs  • Exchange CCR

Solarwinds Exchange Monitor   • Mailbox Role   • Create MailboxOWA   • GAL  • Mailbox Stores