Sunday, August 02, 2009

Migration to SBS 2003 and SBS 2008

SBS 2008 has been out almost a year. And we're publishing a new book on SBS migrations. So why do we have a case study on SBS 2003 and why do we provide a massive checklist for migrating to SBS 2003?

Well . . . It's Microsoft's fault. Okay. Not really. But it's 1/6 Microsoft's fault.

First, we've entered an era in which Microsoft is completely unwilling to push people into new technologies. The whole Vista fiasco is a perfect example. If you count service packs, Windows XP will be seven generations old when W7 ships. But guess what, you can run old crap on Windows XP for the rest of your life.

Second, SBS is very complicated. Tools that help with the "migration" of active directory are great. If you're not using a Swing Migration (or at least ADMT), you should be. But that does you no good when it comes to moving an SQL database to a new server.

SBS 2008 gives you options about SQL versions to install. All fine in theory, but there's a brand new SQL Express database with some tools that don't want to just slide into place if you're installing SQL 2005. Either move it to a different server or get out the pry bar. There's no automated process here.

Our company policy is that we do not put old operating systems on new hardware. The most obvious reason is that we have to go dig up drivers and hope that they work. In addition to that, we don't want a client to have all the new cool technology and no way to use it (e.g., Hyper-V). New servers all come with virtualization capabilities, but Server 2003 can't take advantage of that hardware layer.

Third, there are budget issues. For one reason or another, people are "re-purposing" hardware and squeezing every nickle they can out of what they have. For some people, this is always true. But in times of economic distress, we see a lot more of this. I would would prefer that a client NOT take their existing SBS 2003 open license and move it to a two-year-old server that has been taken out of service somewhere else. But today I wouldn't argue much.

Fourth, there are lazy-ass line of business (LOB) vendors who never update their software. So it won't work on 2008, it won't work on 64 bit, and it won't work on anything newer than .net 1.0. Not only DON'T they upgrade their stuff, they're not CAPABLE of upgrading because they don't keep up with technology. They built this Franken-Ware and don't have a clue how to pull it into the modern era. You can't change that.

Fifth, There are some pretty complicated systems that are just going to move into a virtual machine. So migrating same-to-same is the fastest, easiest way to go. They'll pay software assurance until Microsoft stops selling it and they'll freeze their SBS 2003 box in time.

When the apes take over the planet and worship The Bomb, this SBS 2003 box will hum right along in it's virtual environment, unaware that the rest of the world has evolved.

The Point Is: We believe there will be lots of SBS 2003 to SBS 2003 migrations out there for the next few years.

So while we have a massive SBS 2008 migration checklist, we also have a great SBS 2003 migration checklist.

We will maintain only the SBS 2008 checklist going forward. But we address both checklists in The Network Migration Workbook.

So . . .

Chapter 7 of The Network Migration Workbook is a case study of an SBS 2003 migration. In fact, since most readers will be familiar with SBS 2003 migrations at some level, we decided to present a fairly complex migration that took months to complete. It involves five LOB applications, one primary (SBS) server, one storage server, and one minor web server. In all, almost $1 Million worth of software.

Awhile back there was an online discussion about whether a $100,000 implementation was ever "small business." Just because you only have 15 unique logons doesn't mean you don't have a big, expensive computer operation.

Note: Despite it's complexity, the rules and procedures for achieving Zero Downtime made this "just another job" that had a lot less stress because the client was never down.

Chapter 8 of The Network Migration Workbook is a case study of an SBS 2008 migration. For this one we selected just about the most plain vanilla migration we could come up with. It is one of our favorite clients. We took over maintenance of their systems from an in-house I.T. guy.


We have four appendices to the book.

Appendix A is the actual click-by-click SBS 2003 Migration Checklist. Done.

Appendix B is the actual click-by-click SBS 2008 Migration Checklist. This piece will be complete and go to the printers this week!

Appendix C is a process-focused index to the SBS 2008 Migration Checklist. What's that? Well, let's say you are NOT doing a full SBS migration, but you just need to move Exchange to a new server. You want to make sure you know everything you need to know, set it up properly, and migrating it with zero downtime. This index calls out the relevant pages and sections from The Big Checklist so you can isolate those pages and create your product-specific checklist.

Same for SQL, SharePoint, IIS, etc.

Appendix D provides information on registering the book so you can gain access to the owners-only web site we are building. This site will give you electronic versions of the checklists, access to owners-only blogs and forums, and a place to post and exchange specific checklists for products we don't cover in The Big Checklist.

For example, let's say you specialize in Cousin Larry's Pretty Good Firewall. You will want to remove the section we have on SonicWall firewalls and insert your own checklist. Once integrated, you'll fine-tune this over time. If you think other users of Cousin Larry's Pretty Good Firewall will also benefit from your experience, you might post that checklist (or at least tell people you have it so they can connect directly).

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Scheduled Ship Date: September 1, 2009

Also consider attending our 8-hour live seminar in Vegas (pre-day to SMB Nation).

All attendees of the October 1st Seminar in Las Vegas will receive a free copy of the book included in their registration.

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