Monday 21 April 2008

SBS Swing Migrations - Using W2K3 VMs during the process

We have mentioned in the past how one can utilize Virtual PC 2007 based Server 2003 VMs to facilitate a smooth SBS Swing Migration.

Using a Windows Server 2003 R2 VM setup can streamline the steps. One can have a W2K3 SP2/R2 base VM install that can be used to copy from and start a new VM instance for the Swing Migration. The SP2 install can be used in the case where the SBS 2K3 Active Directory has not been extended for the new Server 2003 R2 components.

One of the significant benefits to using a Server 2003 VM in the Swing process is the ability to both enable Undo Disks and also to Save State and subsequently copy the VM VHDs after each phase of the Swing.

This is a great way for someone who is new to the whole process to get comfortable with running through the Swing steps and not have to worry about starting from Ground Zero if they make a mistake.

Having the saved VMs also gives us the ability to go back to them and run through the various server components to see the how and where things were modified and/or deleted.

The same is true for those who are Swinging SBS for a client's production domain environment. Having that Server 2003 VM can be a huge time saver if something hiccups or dies during the Swing process or during the final phase of the SBS setup post-Swing.

Note that when we are working with client's SBS production domains, we always create a ShadowProtect image of any of the servers needed for the Swing before we start. This gives us a quick fall back if things don't work out as we expect.

We also tend to take a quick ShadowProtect image of the new SBS install at the various Swing stages to make sure that we do have a fallback in case things hiccup or blow up.

We use one of our Vista lab systems running VPC 2007. Besides the DQ35JOE's on board Gigabit adapter, the system has a low profile Intel PRO/1000 PT Dual Port (EXPI9402PT) server adapter installed as our lab systems are setup in the Antec Minuet chassis.

The JOE's on board NIC is connected to our internal network, and one of the Intel PT's ports is connected to a stand alone dedicated Gigabit switch that the old SBS and new SBS servers will also connect to depending on which stage we are at in the Swing Migration.

The Windows Server 2003 Virtual Machine setup has helped us out during the Swing process on countless occasions.

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists

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