Jan 22 2009

Small Business Server 2008 Offers Easier Migration

The live migration capabilities in SBS 2008 allow installs and data transfers with less disruption to end users.

Fundamental changes to the migration strategy in Small Business Server 2008 have made the migration process more flexible and less disruptive to end users than in previous versions. While migration to SBS 2008 still requires detailed planning and testing, Microsoft provided a three-week window in which administrators can stage the migration, relieving the pressure to move all applications and user data in one shot.

SBS 2003 and SBS 2008 can now coexist in the same domain for up to 21 days, solely for purpose of easing the migration process. Once migration is complete, the source server is demoted, leaving only one SBS server in the domain per the standard licensing requirements. Because SBS client computers no longer need to be moved from old domain to new, the migration process can be completed during office hours without interruption to end users.

The Active Directory Migration Tool (ADMT) and Exchange Migration Wizard (used for migration to SBS 2003) are gone, and standard Active Directory (AD) and Exchange administration tools can be used to perform migration tasks once the new SBS 2008 server has been joined to the domain. Microsoft supports migration from Windows Server 2003 and SBS 2003, providing extra help for those migrating from SBS 2003 with a wizard that guides sysadmins through post-migration tasks.

Preparing for Migration

SBS 2008 does not include Internet Security and Acceleration Server (ISA) in any form, so before migration you will need to change your network infrastructure to support an Internet router and configure SBS 2003 to use just one network interface.

The SBS 2008 installer will run in migration mode and check for service packs on the following components if they are installed on the source server: Exchange 2003 SP2, Windows Server 2003 SP2, SBS 2003 SP1 and Windows SharePoint Services 2.0 SP3.
Here is a pre-migration checklist:

  1. Minimize the amount of data that will be transferred to the new server by asking users to delete all unnecessary e-mail and empty their Deleted Items folders.
  2. Make sure that the date, time and time zones match across source and destination servers. On the destination server, check these details in the BIOS.
  3. Back up the source server.
  4. Install the latest service packs for all server components.
  5. Install the .NET Framework 2.0 (or later) on the source server. This is required by the migration tools.

Preparing the Source Domain

The domain and forest functional levels must be raised before running the Source Server Migration Tool. To raise the domain functional level to 2003 on the source server, log on as administrator:

  1. Open Active Directory Domains and Trusts from Administrative Tools on the Start menu.
  2. Right click your SBS domain in the left pane and select Raise Domain Functional Level from the menu.
  3. Windows Server 2003 is the only functional level available, so it already will be selected. Click Raise and then OK to confirm the operation. Click OK once more to complete the task.

Repeat this procedure to raise the forest functional level, right clicking instead on Active Directory Domains and Trusts in the left pane and selecting Raise Forest Functional Level from the menu. Before proceeding, run the SBS 2003 Best Practices Analyzer, which can be downloaded here [http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=113752], and correct any problems that the tool reports.

Now run the Source Server Migration Tool from the SBS 2008 disk on the source server:

  1. Log on with an administrator account that is a member of Enterprise Admins, Schema Admins and Domain Admins.
  2. Insert SBS 2008 DVD 1 into the source server and run SourceTool in the tools folder.
  3. Confirm that you have made a backup of the source server and click Next.
  4. Wait while the tool updates the AD schema, updates licensing and modifies Exchange to run in Native mode. Click Finish once the process has completed, and reboot the server.

The built-in administrator account is disabled by default in SBS 2008, so it’s best practice to create an account for migration purposes. Create a new user account on the source server called migration and make sure that it’s a member of the Domain Admins, Enterprise Admins and Schema Admins groups. Now you’re ready to create an answer file to install SBS 2008 in migration mode:

  1. Run sbsafg.exe in the tools folder on the SBS 2008 DVD 1.
  2. Select Migration from existing server (Join existing domain).
  3. Set the time zone by checking Use the following time zone and select the appropriate zone from the menu.
  4. To simplify the process in this walkthrough, uncheck Windows Live OneCare and Forefront Security under Trial security services to prevent them from installing on SBS 2008.
  5. Fill out your company, source and destination server information as appropriate (Figure 1).
  6. Once all the information is complete, save the file to the root directory of a removable USB drive as sbsanswerfile.xml.

Figure 1

Install SBS 2008 in Migration Mode

  1. Boot the SBS 2008 hardware from the SBS 2008 DVD 1 disk.
  2. Select your language and regional settings, and click Next to continue.
  3. Insert the removable USB drive that contains the answer file and click Install Now.

Follow the setup process for a usual installation of Windows Server, selecting the partition on which to install the operating system, etc. The server will restart twice, and if sbsanswerfile.xml is successfully detected after installation, setup will log on using the migration user specified in the file and continue with an automated setup of the SBS components, using the information provided.

Post-Installation Tasks

Once setup is complete, you’ll be prompted to address any problems detected during installation (Figure 2).

Figure 2

What happens next depends on whether the source server is Windows Server 2003 or SBS 2003. The SBS Console’s Migration Wizard (Figure 3) is only supported if the source server is SBS 2003. The Migration Wizard serves as a guide for sysadmins of what to do and in what order.

Figure 3

While there is no need to migrate user accounts or groups, they do not appear in the SBS Console by default. To remedy this problem, follow the steps below to set the msSBSCreationState attribute on AD user and group objects:

  1. Run adsiedit.msc from the Start Search box on the Start menu.
  2. Right click ADSI Edit in the left pane of the MMC console, select Connect to from the menu and then click OK to accept the default connection settings.
  3. Expand Default Naming Context in the left pane and browse for the group(s) or user(s) you want to add to the SBS Console. Right click the user(s) or group(s) and select Properties from the menu.
  4. Select msSBSCreationState on the Attributes Editor tab and click Edit. Change the value to Create, with a capital C, and click OK (Figure 4).

  5. Figure 4

  6. Additionally, for groups, you need to set the groupType attribute to define the group as either a security or distribution group. Set the value to –2147483640 for security groups and 8 for distribution groups.

Note that if you upgraded from SBS 2003, you should use the above procedure for groups only, and follow instructions in the Migration Wizard for migrating users. If the source server is Windows Server 2003, the SBS Console can be used to assign roles to migrated users.
Once your users and groups are in order, you should move Exchange mailboxes to the new server, which is an easy task with the Exchange Server 2007 Management Console:

  1. Open the Exchange 2007 Management Console on the destination server from All Programs > Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 on the Start menu.
  2. Expand Recipient Configuration in the left pane and then click Mailbox.
  3. Select all mailboxes in the central pane that display as Legacy Mailbox and click Move Mailbox in the right pane (Figure 5).

  4. Figure 5

  5. Click Browse on the first screen of the Move Mailbox Wizard, select the default mailbox database on the destination server and click Next.
  6. Configure move options to skip mailboxes with corrupted messages and set the Global Catalog and Domain Controller to be the destination server (Figure 6). Click Next to continue.

  7. Figure 6

  8. Opt to begin the move operation immediately and click Next.
  9. Review the details on the summary screen and click Move.
  10. Check that the move was successful on the completion screen and click Finish.

Mailboxes can be moved to the new server during office hours, but be aware of the extra workload this will put on both source and destination servers. Users can continue working while their mailboxes are being moved; they will be prompted to restart Outlook once the operation is complete. No reconfiguration is required.

The final step is to decommission or repurpose the source server. You should uninstall Exchange and then demote the source server, using dcpromo.exe to change its status to a member server, rather than simply reformatting the disk.


Russell Smith is an independent consultant based in the United Kingdom who specializes in Microsoft systems management.

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