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Exchange migration dos and don'ts

Venture off the beaten path in migrating to Microsoft's Exchange 2000, and you could end up in quicksand. Start off on the right foot in your Exchange 2000 implementation with these tips from a migration expert.

Anyone who takes a seat-of-the-pants approach to implementing Microsoft Exchange 2000 will probably land right on the seat of his pants, said Exchange migration expert Doug Davis. The successful migration from Exchange 5.5 to Exchange 2000 must be planned as carefully as a military project, said Davis, FastLane Migrator product manager for Irvine, Calif.-based maker Quest Software, an application management software vendor. This is not the time to "just wing it," he said.

Too many IT organizations look at Exchange 2000 migration as just a pure mailbox migration, said Davis. That is a dangerous attitude. Because Exchange 2000 works best in tandem with Microsoft Active Directory, doing this migration involves rethinking, and possibly redesigning, the entire messaging structure. Davis offers some dos and don'ts that will help IT professionals start off on the right foot in their Exchange migration projects.

Do make a full assessment of the current organization's Exchange 5.5 structure. "You can't really plan how to go somewhere until you know where you are coming from," Davis said.

Don't implement Exchange 2000 in your organization before you have tested in the lab.

Do make sure that when you first turn on the mailboxes in Exchange 2000 that all communication protocols and auto-forwarding mechanisms are in place between the organizations.

Don't plan the Exchange 2000 migration as just a pure mailbox migration. The deployment and migration of the Active Directory should go hand-in-hand with an Exchange 2000 migration, said Davis.

Do make the Active Directory migration a part of the Exchange 2000 migration. Companies that plan both at the same time have a much higher success rate than companies that have two separate teams and projects.

Do contemplate setting up a fresh, new organization. "This is a good opportunity to clean house, to clean up your network," said Davis. It's a good time to think about how you are going to create accounts, about repermissioning, about building a better account hierarchy, and so on.

Don't migrate the mail first. You need to populate the address book properly, making sure you bring over the distribution list, the customer recipients, the public folders, and so on, said Davis. If you let users log into Exchange 2000, but you don't give them their address books or access to their exterior contacts, your help desk is going to be swamped with user calls. "The mail migration actually occurs towards the end of the project," he said.

Don't mix and match migrations. Davis has seen migration teams run into trouble when they try to move Lotus Notes and Exchange 5.5 to Exchange 2000 in one project. Make a structured plan for each one, and do the migrations in two phases, he advised. "Then, you'll be able to get to your end destination quite a bit quicker," he concluded.

For more tips and advice, check out our Exchange Best Web Links.

This article was originally published on our sister site, SearchWindowsManageability, on January 9, 2002.

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