Migration – it’s a process not a wizard

Susan,


 Hello, MS. SBS Diva. Hope it is going great for you. I finally have 3 customers moving forward from SBS 2003. (1 is moving from STD. model). I have seen your name on a couple of “how tos blogs” I have read. Couple of questions for you:


I assume you are a consultant for yourself or a firm like myself. Correct?


Actually no I’m not, I use SBS in my business and have migrated from SBS 2003 to SBS 2008.


What are most of the people you talk to or work with using for Anti-Virus these days? Symantec has been our company until EndPoint (horrible in my opinion). I must move my customers forward.


In the MVP panel at SMBnation we had none, Trend, Viper, NOD32, etc.  Bottom line pick one and get comfy with it.  No one a/v product will be perfect.  They will always be risks to running a/v. It’s code getting updated every hour on the hour most days that we trust and don’t test.  Why do I say some are running without a/v?  Because their philosophy is that if you scan all the entry points and exit points rather than having a/v on the server itself, the system is less likely to get mangled.


3 Customers


o   Standard 2003 domain to SBS 2008. Under 15 users. No Exchange. New domain?


o   SBS 2003 to SBS 2008. Is there a good how to out there for this? I have partials but not complete like there was for SBS 2003. I see people complaining about the “migration wizard” a lot versus manual (even if you are very familiar with FSMO, AD, etc.).


o   SBS 2003 to SBS 2008. Complicated network with Citrix, SQL, Goldmine for mail client .


Before I say what I think you should do in each, I want to step back a bit about that “migration wizard” thing and set expectations for the next version of SBS currently in Beta.  I haven’t been as bloggy as I normally am mainly because for a week I was at SMBnation in Las Vegas where you can’t blog and sleep and go to a conference at the same time, and then the week after I’ve been in training for SBS vNexts.  I say Nexts as there are two coming out.  One is a reflection of the blended world of on premises and cloud world we live in (SBSAurora), the other is a traditional premise solution (SBSv7).


From this post forward I’m going to stop calling the migration documentation of SBS a “wizard”, it is a process.  A wizard implies that you click a button and that everything is done automagically for you.  Migrating a production domain isn’t trivial.  Whether you choose a clean install, process b:  Microsoft migration process or c: www.SBSmigration.com you will find yourself with a checklist. What has changed is this:


“In SBS7, migration is now more reliable and predictable. Source server compliance/health checks are now enforced before actual migration happens, and up to 90% of all migration blocking issues should be discovered at this point.


Both clean install and migration now offered during setup, to make the migration process a lot easier to implement for Value Added Provider (VAP) partners and for customers. “


The initial setup no longer needs you to be sitting there with your usb stick ready to plug in at the right time.  You can flip it to migration mode right as you install it.  That’s it.  After that there’s no easy button coded up folks.


But the migration being more reliable and predictable is a by product of doing how many years of these various processes and knowing where the glitches are and building a checking tool as part of the source tool that looks out for the migration blockers.  The issues that many have seen are summarized in www.sbsmigrationtips.com.  These will now be caught by the source tool. 


But the idea that magically the printers will move across from 32 bit to 64bit, or that data will just magically copy across, ain’t gonna happen folks.  If you read through any migration method out there on the web today and don’t want to do it yourself we have folks like Amy and Eriq of www.thirdtier.net to help you, you could hire them to do the migration even. 


So how do you approach what you want to do?  I’d argue you need to do just like with you do a/v and pick one and get comfy with it.  Best way to do this is to use the PtoV (disk2vhd) and make a vhd of your physical box and run through the actual migration start to finish and take your notes.  “But Susan that’s a lot of reading and work”  Yes I know, but you have to invest in future proofing yourself and keeping yourself trained for the future.  You think all of these small businesses can move into the cloud in five years all by themselves?  Get real Google.  Ain’t gonna happen.  First rule in trying to grow yourself from a small business to a bigger business is that you have to give up control of stuff and outsource where it makes sense.  YOU are probably not using the same technology you did five years ago.  We will all need to get better at migration from anything to anything else and quite frankly our small firms are so complex that no one, not Microsoft, not Google, not Apple, not anyone BUT YOU knows what that small firm needs.


So now that that rant is over… back to the original question … what would I do in each scenario?


Standard 2003 domain to SBS 2008. Under 15 users. No Exchange. New domain?


It depends.  I need to know more.  Line of business applications?  You planning to use local exchange?  Where’s the email now if anywhere?  Is this a DC?  What’s the name of the DC?


There’s no Yes or No here, honestly and depends on the firm.  15 users (to me) is beyond that clean install threshold but I’d want to know more about this firm.  There have been times people had a horrible domain naming setup/structure and wanted to start over. 


o   SBS 2003 to SBS 2008. Is there a good how to out there for this? I have partials but not complete like there was for SBS 2003. I see people complaining about the “migration wizard” a lot versus manual (even if you are very familiar with FSMO, AD, etc.).


I’m not picking on you but I want to pick on you, or rather I want to pick on Microsoft.  The worst decision they EVER made was to call that migration checklist a wizard.  You remember that infamous debate at a vice president debate years back “I knew Jack Kennedy.. you are not Jack Kennedy…”  well I’m a SBSer.   know wizards…. YOU are not a wizard is what I’d like to say about the “Migration wizard”.   There is no easy button here and Microsoft made a terrible mistake in calling that documentation and guide a wizard.  It set the expectation incorrectly from the get go.  It’s a deployment guide.  I also see people asking if it’s better going from SBS 2003 to SBSv7 (the next version that has Exchange 2010).  Go look at the Exchange 2010 documentation, go look how it’s a new database, go look how you have to swing over to in and cannot inplace upgrade from 2007 to 2010.  Don’t get me wrong there are other sources of migration advice and brain power (see Jeff Middleton’s www.sbsmigration.com for example), but it’s a guide, a framework.  Printer driver issues haven’t been “fixed” as there is no “fixing”.  Applications still need to be moved.  Nothing in the migration was “broken”, WE were “broken”.  We didn’t know how to diagnose the health of our active directory, didn’t know that about ¼ of our boxes were in journal wrap (as some consultants have reported), mainly due to the times we ran out of hard drive space on the c drive, lost our licenses and never realized we were in journal wrap.  If you have journal wrap you are”broken” you just don’t know it (and yes, the www.sbsbpa.com can tell).


For this one, I’m not going to take sides over Microsoft’s process or Swing migration process.  Many consultants like the swing process as it’s less destructive to the existing system but I can point out the places you can roll back from a Microsoft process if you get stuck as well (more blog posts on that).  But bottom line there’s now advice and guidance on the process.


o   SBS 2003 to SBS 2008. Complicated network with Citrix, SQL, Goldmine for mail client (I absolutely hate this & the guy’s users do too).


Same advice as before, you need to decide what process feels right for you.  This one I strongly would not do clean.


Bottom line, there are two very clear processes for migration.  There’s no wizard here though for any of your three scenerios.  I can’t give you a black and white answer for you.  All I can do is show you where this blog post is from Microsoft that will get you on your way – www.sbsmigrationtips.com  - and this  from Jeff Middleton’s migration process – www.sbsmigration.com .


Get ready for SBS v7 and SBS Aurora, we’re going to be doing a LOT of MIGRATION PROCESSES as we go forward.


Stay tuned, the vNext era of migration blog posts are in the works.

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