Upgrading with Windows 2003 Server

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DataCenter
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Microsoft Windows
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SQL Server
We have 10 WIN2K servers in our environment. 3 of these servers are domain controllers. The rest are member servers. We would like to upgrade with WIN2003 server. Does any one have any tips or pointers on how to go about this task. Is the upgrade process straight forward or should we think about building servers from scratch (obviously a much more time consuming task - but doable). We have a pretty simple AD structure and don't use group policies.(if that makes a difference). Thanks in advance for any info.

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I would suggest that you rebuild your servers rather then upgrade. Reason being there are alot of tools that you may want to employ such as SMS(used to push client upgrades) that do not run properly or in some instances at all on an upgraded server. From your comments stating that your hierarchy is fairly uncomplicated it would make it less work. However if your not going to ever use these tools an upgrade is pretty straight forward. I will say its very dangerous to say that in the future you wont need these tools, I’m sure you understand the importance of having a scalable infastructure. Hope this is helpful in your process of making a decision.

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  • MichaelHaag
    If your AD is clean and you are happy with it's structure, it is a pretty straight forward process to upgrade. Do you have Exchange running in your environment and are you upgrading it?
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  • DrillO
    Might I ask why you want to upgrade? Generally, if it ain't broke, why fix fix it. Unless there are compelling reasons to upgrade the O/S I wait until it is time to upgrade the hardware and then go from there with a complete upgrade. Just my 2 cents worth. Paul
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  • Petroleumman
    Hello, We did an upgrade of our network environment (3 DC's, 4 member servers and an Exchange server) about 2 years ago shortly after the first release of Windows Server 2003 hit the market. In our upgrade we went from an NT 4.0 environment straight to 2003 and all I have to say is it went very smooth and we encountered far less hurdles than we ever expected. The new wizards help to make the process very straight forward and easy. Another nice thing about an in-place upgrade vs. rebuilding from scratch is that I did not need any additional hardware which in many cases is necessary when building from scratch (i.e. and Exchange server would be a must). This is a big deal if your working with a tight (or non-existant) operating budget! As for problematic tools, well in our experience we didn't see any problems in that area but this is not to say it couldn't happend. With the number of servers you have my thoughts are the time you'll save yourself with an in place upgrade vs. rebuilding will far out weigh a problematic tool or two. Good luck and happy upgrade!
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  • HumbleNetAdmin
    I suggest that were possible that you Install win2k3 server from scratch. The reasons, you could have under lying problems with your win2k systems that you don?t see now that could rear their ugly heads after you do the upgrade, or even during the upgrade. Upgrading may be a faster path to take, however the peace of mind you can achieve by having a fresh and clean install of the OS, to me out ways the time it would to take to do the clean installs. Since you have three DC's, provided those systems don?t provide other business critical functions. You could take each one down and install Win2k3 DC's and then start on the member servers. I understand that the time to take some of your systems down to do a clean install of win2k3 and bring them back online could be challenging, so it may be desirable to just upgrade some systems. FYI incase these have not come to mind in your preparations to migrate to win2k3 (since you have already did a migration from nt to 2k, they probably have, but I will suggest anyway). Research into your systems hardware to insure that there are no compatibility issues with win2k3. Do the same for applications that you may be running on these systems. Insure that the hardware on your systems meets the minimum requirements for win2k3. I suggest that you exceed those requirements where you can by 25-30% for future growth and so that peak periods do not over task your servers for an extended period of time. The rule of thumb that I try to live by; is to maintain the hardware resources of my servers (RAM, CPU) so that they do not exceed 50% utilization for extended periods of time for the ram, and that CPU utilization does not exceed 50% utilization constantly. If these issues occur, time to upgrade or, move services to other servers or add servers to take some of the load. Another good idea would be to insure that after you have installed w2k3 and your applications, is that the HDD?s in the systems will have at least 35 to 45% free space on the system drive. This gives some room for updates and service packs and insures plenty of space for defragging and maintaining HDD health for the OS.
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  • Dubravko
    To keep it short: rebuild from scratch, one by one - going from member servers to up DCs. Make sure you have all w2k3 hardware drivers downloaded in advance. At some point transfer DC roles from the appropriate w2k to a new w2k3 machine. Consult for example TechNet for details, I'm sure there is plenty of it out there. And start using GPOs - they are free, and they do make life easier. If not for anything else, then at least for patching...
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  • Juscelino
    Although I agree with all of the previous response, I personally suggest upgrading for one simple reason. During the upgrade, the wizard will tell you if there are any applications/hardware that will cause problems/conflicts once the upgrade is done. I understand that you are not running anything complicating, but in general an upgrade to Windows 2003 Server is smooth enough that, in my opinion, it would be a waste of time to rebuild and install and share all over again.
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