As we’ve mentioned in previous articles, migrating to Microsoft Exchange 2000 in an enterprise environment requires extensive planning, testing, and organizational consideration. This article provides a Microsoft Project template for a sample company migrating from Exchange 5.5 to Exchange 2000 and explains the concepts behind it.
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Topology of the sample organization
This article and the related download are based on a fictitious organization, Sample Technologies Incorporated (STI), which is migrating from a 10-site Exchange 5.5 organization to Exchange 2000 and setting up the prerequisite Active Directory forest.
STI’s IT personnel are distributed across all 10 sites, and they all agree that the Exchange 2000 migration will provide a business benefit. Groupware has become mission-critical to the performance of STI as a business, and the resources powering this business driver are in need of expansion. Exchange 2000 extends Microsoft’s collaboration suite to the Windows 2000 platform, as well as adding some significant features that STI’s Exchange administrators are interested in. Figure A shows a topology of the STI network.
|STI’s Exchange topology|
Some sites have WAN links, while others have VPN links. STI is indifferent about which means is used for Exchange traffic; however, a slightly decentralized IT strategy has given way to this mix as other services share the remote network bandwidth (ERP, file/print services, hosted applications, etc.). Some of the sites are removing their WAN links and replacing them with VPN links. Exchange 2000 will not change this layout, but it will change the types of connections used by Exchange servers over the WAN or VPN links.
STI currently has 10 Exchange sites. The following is information about each site:
- · STI-CMH (Columbus, OH)—STI headquarters. This site has Internet Mail Service-based connected site connections (and directory replication connections) to STI-TPA, STI-MGM, STI-NYC, and STI-LAX.
- · STI-MGM (Montgomery, AL)—A group of STI manufacturing facilities that could be a separate company. It has Internet Mail Service-based connected site connection (and directory replication connection) to STI-CMH. STI-MGM has Site Connectors to STI-HOU in Houston, STI-MICH in Michigan, and STI-DE in Germany (extensions of STI-MGM).
- · STI-NYC (New York)—A branch of STI dealing with investment banking and financial matters. This site has Internet Mail Service-based connected site connection (and directory replication connection) to STI-CMH and a Site Connector to STI-BOS in Boston (extension of STI-NYC).
- · STI-TPA (Tampa)—Sales and service center for STI. This site has Internet Mail Service-based connected site connection (and directory replication connection) to STI-CMH only.
- · STI-LAX (Los Angeles)—STI Manufacturing facility. It has Internet Mail Service-based connected site connection (and directory replication connection) to STI-CMH and a Site Connector to STI-REY in Mexico (extension of STI-LAX).
In this migration, STI will establish an Exchange 2000 center of expertise composed of IT personnel who have had advanced training and more experience with the product. In this scenario, four people from STI-CMH, two at STI-MGM, and one at STI-LAX will make up the STI Exchange 2000 competency group (E2KCG). This will help STI deliver the best services and plan best for the future.
To successfully implement this project, any organization (including the fictitious STI) will designate members of each local IT staff to have certain roles in the project. Some sites have only one member, so that person wears many hats, but some of the larger sites are able to distribute roles among different employees. These teams, along with the competency group, will be formed before the start of the project.
In this case, STI has decided to implement Windows 2000 as the new network operating system for new systems and needs. This will not mean upgrading and removing all other file, print, or application servers to Windows 2000. Setting up an Active Directory framework for Exchange 2000 and new projects in the future will best allow the organization to be in alignment with Microsoft technologies balanced with their other investments in Windows NT 4.0 systems.
STI’s migration will be a demanding project, yet the IT staff at each location will continue other operations while progressing. Every IT employee at each facility won’t necessarily be involved with the project. Teams will be formed based on the resources at each facility.
The entire project will involve three main phases:
- · Premigration planning, testing, and training
- · Active Directory population
- · Upgrading the Exchange organization
These steps will provide logical sections for different aspects of the work to be done. The migration will use the following strategies:
- · The Windows NT user account domains will have an in-place upgrade performed on them (not requiring new hardware for the Active Directory components). This will preserve all user accounts and place them in Active Directory.
- · New hardware will be purchased for the Exchange 2000 servers. This will allow a coexistence of the Exchange 5.5 server during the migration.
- · The “move mailbox” strategy will be used for each site from the Exchange 5.5 servers to the new Exchange 2000 servers. The Exchange 2000 servers will also take advantage of the information store segmentation that is new to this version, which also provides logical groups to perform the mailbox moves upon.
- · The SMTP Connector will replace all Exchange-based connections except a few third-party connections to various fax servers at some sites.
The new Exchange organization is now much more consistent in terms of the type of connections, and it is better equipped to enable business benefits from the more robust messaging platform. The newly created Active Directory framework will also enable future Microsoft technologies to be brought into the organization with greater ease.
The key component of this project is implementing Exchange 2000 and Active Directory in the sample organization to enhance the groupware functionality and to pave the way for future technologies. A project of this scope requires all parties be properly trained and communicated on all aspects of the components involved. This scenario hopefully provides insight on issues that may assist your organization’s Exchange 2000 migration strategy. If you have not yet downloaded our “Using our Exchange 2000 project template,” click here to download it now.
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Rick Vanover is a software strategy specialist for Veeam Software, based in Columbus, Ohio. Rick has years of IT experience and focuses on virtualization, Windows-based server administration, and system hardware.