Last week, I talked about changing out the hardware of an Exchange Server 5.5 system. I explained the two basic approaches: the Forklift method and the Move Mailbox method. This week, I want to visit the same topic for Exchange 2000 Server systems and discuss why the task is a little more complicated for Exchange 2000.
First, let's look at the Forklift approach. With Exchange 5.5, you use this approach to move directories from the original Exchange server to the new Exchange server. You run a couple of utilities, and bingo—your new installation is running on new hardware. However, Exchange 2000 is so tightly integrated with Active Directory (AD) that you can't simply copy Exchange directories from the old server to the new server as you can in Exchange 5.5. The best way to approach the Forklift method when retrofitting an Exchange 2000 server is as a disaster-recovery operation. As such, you can use the new /disasterrecovery option in the Exchange 2000 Setup program to recover your Exchange 2000 server to the new hardware configuration. However, Microsoft offers no documented procedure for using the Forklift approach in Exchange 2000—a good indication that this method is probably the higher-risk option. If you still want to pursue the Forklift method, I recommend that you read the Microsoft Product Support Services (PSS) white paper "Exchange 2000 Server Database Recovery" (see the URL at the end of the Commentary).
So what about the Move Mailbox approach? The Move Mailbox method for Exchange 2000 has all the benefits of the same procedure for Exchange 5.5 and works in a similar fashion, albeit through different tools.
In fact, when you use a tool such as ExMerge to accomplish the move, there's really no difference at all. The preferable approach, however, might be to install Exchange System Manager (ESM) on a server or administrator's workstation so that you can use the Microsoft Management Console (MMC) Active Directory Users and Computers snap-in to move mailboxes through ESM's Move Mailbox task. (You use the Active Directory Users and Computers snap-in rather than the ESM snap-in because an Exchange 2000 mailbox is an attribute of an AD user account.)
Regardless of whether you're moving mailboxes between Exchange 5.5 servers or Exchange 2000 servers (or from Exchange 5.5 to Exchange 2000, for that matter), you need to understand the consequences of your chosen method before you proceed. For example, using ExMerge instead of Microsoft Exchange Administrator or the Active Directory Users and Computers snap-in will wipe out mailbox permissions, rules, and delegation. When you use the Active Directory Users and Computers snap-in, opening the snap-in and initiating the move on the target Exchange 2000 server is more efficient than performing the operation from the administrator's workstation. (The former method causes a direct connection between the source and target Exchange servers, whereas the latter method causes a connection from the source to the administrator's workstation, then to the target server—a much slower and less efficient process.)
When you face the challenge of retrofitting the hardware of your Exchange 2000 or Exchange 5.5 server, take some time to carefully research your options, understand the trade-offs and consequences, and plan and test your approach. Doing so will ensure a smooth transition with the least amount of downtime.