SBS 2003 to SBS 2008 Migration Successes


I received the following post from Philip Elder of MPECS Inc, and Edmonton based SBS specialist.  As hardware nears its end of life more and more people are starting to migrate their SBS installations to new hardware and in the process moving to SBS 2008 as well.  Philip has done a number of migrations and has some thoughts to share.

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Now that we have been into a number of different SBS 2003 to SBS 2008 migrations, it is perhaps a good time to share some thoughts on those experiences.

The first thought that comes to mind is that the Microsoft method for migrating is not an easy one. But, it goes without saying that any migration process is not easy.

We are talking about taking a very complicated piece of software in Small Business Server 2003 that has since had third party applications installed on it, updates, patches, and service packs installed on it, and then any number of customizations to meet the client’s particular needs and moving the entire domain and the server’s contents over to a new box running Small Business Server 2008.

There are two reasons why we dove into the Microsoft method:

  1. An oncoming migration was well before Jeff’s new methodology was going to be ready.
  2. Constanza Zalba sent an invitation to present on migrations since we were running through trials to figure out the Microsoft method.

The greater the number of migrations that we have run through, the better prepared we have become for jumping into any migration request.

The second thought that comes to mind is that there was a huge difference between migrating an existing client’s SBS network that we have been a part of since day one and a new client whose network we have never touched.

In the former case, we are aware of everything that is running on the server and clients and how they all work together to provide our clients with the best possible user experience.

In the latter, there can be any number of things that come together to cause a hiccup in the migration process that can be worked through. There are times though, where those things can bring about a complete melt down of the process.

Even worse, when we are starting out at ground zero with a new client and did not get enough time to scope the source server completely we may get the, “Where is my Line of Business application?” question that may really throw us for a loop after the source server has been completely decommissioned and taken offline.

At that point the, “But you did not tell me about that LoB when we were in discussions about the migration” excuse will not work.

Having a good fallback plan and an excellent image based backup of the source server before being touched and at each stage of the migration process will pay off. A good System State before being touched is an excellent way to step back if things choke before the mailbox move step.

And therein lies the two keys to having successful SBS Migrations:

  1. Planning, a good backup, more planning, and a thorough questionnaire for the client.
  2. Experience.

The first gives us as much information in as short amount of time as possible.

The second prepares us to deal with the messes left by other folks that did not really understand how Small Business Server was supposed to be set up, configured, and managed.

Between the two we can be pretty confident about quoting out a set price on the migration and coming away with a fairly accurate or better margin on the deal.

Always remember the Star Trek engineer’s rule of thumb:

  • Quote 2 and do it in 1.

Philip Elder
MPECS Inc.
Microsoft Small Business Specialists
Co-Author: SBS 2008 Blueprint Book

Comments (1)

  1. Sean Kearney says:

    Another bonus you have to work with now too if you’re looking at a "Cut and Paste" instead of a Swing is you can use Powershell to gather all the details of that Active Directory (usernames, email addresses, Groups, Memberships) to re-create it clean on the other side.

    I prefer a good swing myself.   Always the nicest way to go.   But Powershell gives you some nice alternate options 🙂

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