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Migrate Exchange 5.5 intact or install on new forest?

A unit of the Army National Guard, which is now a temporary Active Directory forest with Exchange 5.5, will be migrating to an Active Directory forest of the U.S. Army. We are required to maintain Exchange 5.5. We have 150 users and a priv.edb of 5 GB. Once migration is complete, we will become an organizational unit.

Can we migrate Exchange 5.5 intact, or should we install Exchange 5.5 on the new forest and use Exmerge to move the mail? Some people think we can install Exchange 5.5 before the migration, and some think we should install after we are members of the Army forest.

What would you do?

As long as the Exchange 5.5 servers are built on machines that are just member servers, and not servicing a backup domain controller role in the old NT domain, I would simply add the machines into the new AD domain. Then, change the Exchange 5.5 service accounts and reassign all of the mailboxes in Exchange 5.5 with a a new Active Directory primary NT account.

This way the original Exchange 5.5 servers will exist as member servers in the new Active Directory domain; the service account for Exchange is an Active Directory object; and, lastly, the accounts used to log into the mailbox are the new Active Directory accounts.

This article might be helpful as well: How to change the service account password.

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