It's been a while since I set up my Exchange 2003 Lab environment. Although the setup is relatively simple with only one Active Directory domain controller and one Exchange server, I have been very happy with it and quite impressed by RCP over HTTPS, which has worked flawlessly.
It seems these days all the talk is about Exchange 2007; ignoring the long proven advice of "if it ain't broke don't fix it." I decided that it's absolutely vital that I upgrade my lab to Exchange 2007 and see what all the fuss is about. Rather than starting with a completely new lab, I wanted to upgrade my 2003 lab to see how the process works. This is also a more likely scenario in the real word so the experience is directly applicable.
After digging around on TechNet and reading various papers, it's clear that before jumping in there is quite a bit of preparation involved to make sure that all of the prerequisites for transitioning to Exchange 2007 are met. There is no upgrade path to Exchange 2007 (as in, you can't throw in the Exchange 2007 media and simply click on Upgrade) but rather the option to transition or migrate. What's the difference? Here are Microsoft's definitions:
Transition is the scenario in which you upgrade an existing Exchange organization to Microsoft Exchange Server 2007.
Migration is the scenario in which you upgrade to Exchange 2007 by migrating data from a non-Exchange messaging system to Exchange 2007 or from an existing Exchange organization to a completely new Exchange organization, without retaining any of the Exchange configuration data in the first organization.
As I want to move my existing Lab over to Exchange 2007, I'll be making a transition; because there is no option to perform an in-place upgrade I will need to
Build a new server and install Exchange 2007
Add that server to my existing Exchange organisation
Move data to the Exchange 2007 server
Depreciate/Decommission the Exchange 2003 server
Remember that in a production environment Exchange 2007 should only be run on a 64-bit server running an x64 version of Windows Server.
That's the transition flow taken care of, now how about prerequisites?
First of all, Exchange 2007 requires the functional level of Active Directory to be set to Windows Server 2000 or Windows Server 2003. A similar requirement is that the Exchange organisation must be running in Native mode; that means no pre-Exchange 2000 servers are in the organisation. Any Exchange 5.5 servers must be upgraded to 2000/2003 before the transition to 2007 can be made. It is recommended that any Exchange 2000 servers be patched up to Service Pack 3 and Exchange 2003 servers up to Service Pack 2.
Microsoft issue server warnings for organisations transitioning to Exchange 2007. Those moving across from Exchange 2003 are warned that ActiveSync users will lose their last sync point and have to resynchronise the entire mailbox.
The following features of Exchange 2003 are not supported in Exchange 2007:
Novell GroupWise connector
Network News Transfer Protocol (NNTP)
To continue using these features, at least one Exchange 2003 server must remain in the organization. The same applies for these services provided by Exchange 2000 servers:
Microsoft Mobile Information Server
Instant Messaging service
Exchange Chat Service
Exchange 2000 Conferencing Server
Key Management Service
MS Mail connector
This TechNet article can be referred to for more detail.
All things considered, it looks like transitioning my Lab to Exchange 2007 will be a fairly painless affair. My domain and Exchange organizations are running at the highest available functional levels with no legacy systems to complicate the move. I don't use the GroupWare connector or NNTP so I should be able to decommission the Exchange 2003 server after the move with no problems. The only complication I foresee is reconfiguring the environment to keep RPC over HTTPS functionality. Under Exchange 2007 this is now called ‘Outlook Anywhere' but underneath, it's pretty much the same thing. I had a read through Marc Grote's article on configuring Outlook Anywhere with ISA Server 2006 over at MSExchange.org; although I won't be using ISA 2006, it has given me an idea as to what's involved and the configuration process looks much the same as under Exchange 2003.
Have you recently moved over to Exchange 2007? If so it would be great to hear how it went, what problems were encountered, and how they were overcome. Maybe you're starting to plan a transition at the moment; what are the key motivators behind the move?