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Ten Active Directory migration dos and don'ts

Aelita Software's CEO gave searchWindowsManageability some tips to migrating from Windows NT and Exchange 5.5 to their successors, Windows 2000 and Exchange 2000.

Active Directory migration can be a grueling one-time event, said Ratmir Timashev. Unfortunately, most IT departments don't have experience with an event of its size, length, and complexity. Timashev, CEO of Aelita Software, advised searchWindowsManageability on the best practices for migrating to Active Directory. Aelita, based in Powell, OH, is the maker of Domain Migration Wizard and Exchange Migration Wizard. The two products help companies migrate to Windows 2000 from NT and from Exchange 5.5 to Exchange 2000 respectively.

Do analyze and plan. "Examine your domains, directories, Exchange organizations and inventory," Timashev said. Once this is done, do create a detailed migration plan including ongoing administration issues.

Don't think you can do everything with just your in-house IT staff and native Windows 2000 tools. Enlist the help of a third-party product.

Do test different third-party tools in a test lab before making any purchases.

Do assume coexistence. "In only the smallest organizations will a migration to a new system be completed successfully in one night or weekend," he stressed. Complete a test migration, making sure coexistence between systems is upheld. In other words, "once a group of users or resources are migrated, those users must still have access to non-migrated users and all their required resources."

Don't plan Active Directory and Exchange migrations separately. Many companies make the decision to move to Active Directory so they can upgrade to Exchange 2000, said Timashev.

Do enlist both the NT group and the messaging group early on to actively participate through Active Directory and Exchange migrations. Having the two groups work together will ease technical glitches and add value to the processes.

Do optimize and clean up. When the migration is over, consolidate servers. Clean up decommissioned elements, such as SIDHistory attributes.

Don't let your end users be impacted. "Careful analysis, testing and communication are the keys to preventing this situation," Timashev advised.

Don't forget that even the best-laid plans can go awry. Keep end users and management informed of key milestones and successes.


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