FAQ: Migrating from Windows Small Business Server 2003 to 2008

Virtualization expert Dave Sobel answers commonly asked questions about preparing clients for a Small Business Server 2008 migration and performing an installation from scratch.

There are several key factors that solutions providers can look at to determine if their clients need to migrate to Windows Small Business Server 2008. Expert Dave Sobel answers commonly asked questions about Small Business Server (SBS) migration. Find out when it is the best time to perform an installation from scratch, how to prepare for a migration and the four basic steps to executing a migration.

Listen to Dave Sobel's answers to other frequently asked questions about performing a Windows Small Business Server 2008 migration in an FAQ podcast or read a transcribed version.

How can solutions providers know when it is best to migrate to SBS 2008 or perform an installation from scratch?
When would it be absolutely necessary to migrate to SBS 2008?
What should solutions providers do to prepare for a migration?
What are the basic approaches for performing an SBS 2003 to SBS 2008 migration?
More resources on Microsoft Small Business Server 2008
About the expert

How can solutions providers know when it is best to migrate to SBS 2008 or perform an installation from scratch?

Solutions providers know which migration option is best for their customers based on the state of the source SBS 2003 system. The migration process has a preparation step on the source server. If the preparation is successful, the provider can perform a migration. If the source server is damaged and unable to be prepared, an installation from scratch is the best option.

When would it be absolutely necessary to migrate to SBS 2008?

Customer business needs, such as using the features of remote access via RemoteApps or the need for support of virtualization, are the main driver for migrating to SBS 2008. Additionally, OEM-purchased SBS 2003 that runs on hardware that is nearing end of life is a strong candidate for migration to SBS 2008.

What should solutions providers do to prepare for a migration?

The key to migrations is practice; you can't practice enough! Work on your technique so you feel comfortable with the process, and have a backup plan. Additionally, it's essential for solutions providers to understand and complete the migration steps in the correct order. Procedure matters with successful SBS migrations.

Most important, you should have a complete backup of the system. The backup will ensure that you have options for how to proceed in the event that an error occurs. You should then review all of the relevant documentation and, finally, perform a practice run.

What are the basic approaches for performing an SBS 2003 to SBS 2008 migration?

There are four ways to approach a migration from SBS 2003 to SBS 2008.

The first method is to start over from a new SBS domain. You must set up a new environment, create new user accounts and add the computers to the new domain. Next, migrate the user data by exporting it from the old accounts. Then, re-import it to the new domain and transfer the other data.

The second method is to use the Microsoft-approved SBS migration methodology that's posted on TechNet. This migrates the domain data within the same Windows domain with a new server name and IP address in the end. This method cleanly migrates data, but requires manual labor to complete the migration.

The third method is to use third-party migration techniques, such as those delivered by SBSmigration.com, or a cloud migration technique from service providers like Doyenz Inc. These methods make for smoother transitions by allowing for the majority of the work -- moving domain names and IP addresses -- to be completed from offsite locations.

Finally, it is also possible to partner with other companies that deliver migration as a solution. SBSMigration.com, ThirdTier and other companies will perform this work on your behalf.

More resources on Microsoft Small Business Server 2008

About the expert
Dave Sobel is CEO of Evolve Technologies, a Fairfax, Va.-based solutions provider that offers virtualization, networking and security services to small and medium-sized businesses. He is a regular speaker at industry events and an active member of Heartland Technology Groups in the United States and Europe.

This was first published in August 2009

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