How To Migrate From Windows Server 2003 To 2012

Migration To Server 2012 Tips

Customers that haven't upgraded to Windows Server 2012 are either living in denial or under a rock. Those that don't migrate off Server 2003 face a range of consequences from security issues, no longer meeting legal and regulatory requirements, and encountering possible application failure. Microsoft stops supporting Server 2003 July 14.

Before you take the upgrade plunge, it's important to know what you're up against. Upgrading from Server 2003, on paper, sounds like a deceptively simple three-step process that includes hardware discovery, assessing your software and network needs, and full-on migration. Sounds easy enough. But it's not.

Complicating matters are hardware and application compatibility. What tools should I use? And whom do I turn to for help when an Active Directory bogey can't join a company's domain?

Where to turn, and where do you start? Let's dive in with this basic overview of how to upgrade to Windows Server 2012 from 2003.

Know What Your Tools Are

Migrating to Server 2012 is no walk in the park. Knowing what your migration tools that can help you speed things along is critical. Having the right tools, such as Disk2vhd, Microsoft Assessment and Planning Toolkit, are key to getting the job done right and with a modicum of time.

Here are a few essential migration tools from Microsoft and where to find them:

* Install, Use, and Remove Windows Server Migration Tools

* Installing Migration Tools

* Microsoft Assessment and Planning Toolkit

* Disk2vhd v2.01

Cheat Sheets

Because no single migration is ever the same, in addition to tools Microsoft also provides a wealth of information on migrating. Need a cheat sheet on Microsoft features in Windows Server? Need to better understand Azure and how the cloud service can grease the migration wheels for your customers?

Here is a list of Server 2012 migration resources:

* Migration Roles And Features In Windows Server

* Windows Server TechNet Library Documentation

* E-book Gallery For Microsoft Technologies

* Bring The Power Of Microsoft Azure To Your Datacenter

Avoiding Application Complications With Virtualization

Best practices assume that you will have gone through a full inventory of hardware and software. That said, it's important to keep in mind virtualizing is an easy way to reduce the need for physical hardware. Once the hardware and software inventory is complete, maybe Software-as-a-Service is the right fit for a customer.

Migrating from Windows Server 2003 to 2012 can be a healthy kick in the pants to solution provider revenue and can provide customers with a fresh approach to solving legacy business problems.

Ounce Of Active Directory Prevention Is Worth A Pound Of Cure

Care and attention to preparing the migration of the Active Directory is a requisite step for moving to Server 2012. A common hiccup is avoiding the migration out-of-date accounts and making sure valid ones aren't given a premature heave-ho.

What you'll quickly learn is the devil is in the details when determining if an account is stale or active, so post-migration, you're not faced with customers whose computers are no longer able to join a company's domain. Also, any dead computers with leftover Active Directory records are likely to create problems you want to head off now before they happen down the road.

File Server Migration

The one-two punch in migration doesn't stop with Active Directory. That's where it starts. File and storage services -- including data, shared folders, and operating system settings -- are also key components to the server migration when it comes to moving from the source server to a destination server running Windows Server 2012 R2.

Before beginning the file and storage service migration, install Windows 2012 on the destination server and make sure it is in sync with the source server. Then make sure identical File Services role services has been installed on the source and destination server. Next, install Windows Server Migration Tools on the destination server, follow the instructions, but not before opening the UDP port 7000 and being certain that it is not in use by other applications.

Application Aggravations

Migrating applications from Windows Server 2003 to 2012 is a must. Many applications can be updated without a hitch, while other customers have mission-critical applications that are unsupported by Windows Server 2012. Those unsupported apps can create security and reliability issues when thrown into an unsupported environment.

Microsoft says itself that "applications must be upgraded to the latest version. Use technology to counter incompatibilities Windows Server 2003 to Windows Server 2012 R2." Microsoft suggests using a different app or SaaS offering to achieve the same business result with little impact to your business workflow.

Customers with mission-critical applications that are unsupported by Windows Server 2012 have options. Windows Server 2012 R2 offers a compatibility mode to run such applications, but it's not foolproof. The other option is reaching out to third-party app makers, such as AppZero that will take applications, package them up, and make them a virtualized instance that can run on Windows Server 2012.

Migrating Terminal Service Licenses and Resources

After migrating apps and storage there is also that nagging issue of transferring Windows Server 2003 Terminal Services licenses from the existing server to a Server 2012. To do so is a three-step process.

First, activate the new license server. Next, deactivate the old server. Lastly, move all the licenses from the old server to the new server. To do this, you will need to contact Microsoft Clearinghouse over the telephone. Be prepared with the paperwork for the original TS licenses, as this data needs to be provided to clearinghouse personnel. If the original paperwork is lost, then you need to contact your Microsoft TAM (Technical Account Manager) to obtain copies.

Testing Boxes

Testing servers before they go back online is an essential last step when it comes to quality assurance and guaranteeing business continuity. Nearly all OEMs have their own tools. Dell has Dell Diagnostics that Runs off a USB stick or DVD. JAM Software has a tool called HeavyLoad that stress-tests new servers. Check with an OEM if you're refurbishing existing hardware and need testing software.

Backup Plans

As with all great migration plans, so are hatched the contingency plans. Create a rollback plan before your Server 2012 implementations go live, reduce the risk of disruption of end users. Microsoft suggests pulling the trigger on your rollback plan if you run into these traps:

-- Users cannot log on to their accounts after migration.

-- Users cannot access resources after migration.

-- User migration is incomplete; for example, passwords did not migrate.

-- User migration was successful, but user workstation migration or local profile translation failed.