My office has been using Exchange 2000 running on Windows 2000 Server. It was installed sometime in 2002, long before I got there. Since then, Microsoft has come out with 2003 versions of both of these products.
Upper management gave us the go-ahead a few weeks ago to pay the Microsoft tax to get it all upgraded. This includes a license for Windows 2003 Server, a license for Exchange 2003 Server, and Exchange 2003 client access licenses. The cost of all the software and client access licenses dwarfs the cost of server hardware. It does include 3 years of Software Assurance, which means that we will be able to upgrade to Exchange 12 (currenty in Beta) for free. We’ll wait until Service Pack 1 has been out for a few months before we upgrade, just to be sure it’s rock solid.
The migration method I chose was to build a temporary server with the new software environment and migrate everything, then rebuild the current server and migrate back to it. The last time I was comfortable with doing an in-place upgrade of a critical Microsoft product was in the days of MS-DOS. I never do upgrades with Windows, and Exchange is a whole lot more complicated than Windows.
Our old Exchange 2000 license is for the Enterprise edition. Based on quotes received from our vendor, we had planned to upgrade to the Enterprise edition of Exchange 2003. After we ordered what we were quoted, I downloaded this version from the Volume Licensing website and got it loaded on the temporary server.
It turns out that they screwed up and gave us a quote for the Enterprise edition of Windows. We plan to run the Standard edition of the operating system, since we already knew that Enterprise costs three times as much, and we don’t need any of its features.
Exchange 2003 Enterprise costs almost twice as much as Windows Server 2003 Enterprise, and at least five times as much as Exchange 2003 Standard. Thankfully, Microsoft increased the maximum database size of the Standard edition from 16 GB to 75 GB with Service Pack 2, critical since we have 20GB of mail on the server.
At this point, we are halfway through the full move. Everything is running from the new server, and the old server is completely shut down. Next week, we uninstall Exchange 2000, wipe the server, and begin the rebuild with the 2003 Standard edition.
In closing, I would like to talk about my previous post. It probably mystified most of my audience. To clear things up: It is a screenshot taken from the temporary Exchange server during the massive migration of mail and public folders. I had to post it, since it boasted one point twenty one jigabytes (sic) of allocated memory.