Sunday, January 20, 2008

The transformation is almost complete - Part 2

This is the second part of my story of attempting to migrate all my machines (servers and workstations) into virtual machines actually housed on one physical piece of hardware (you know to stop global warming and save the whales man).

If you can remember our last episode I had managed to finally migrate my web server into Microsoft Virtual PC using Shadowprotect, that wasn't exactly the way that I'd planned to do it but at least it was done and I had removed one piece of hardware from my network. Next on the agenda was my SBS server.

SBS Server

So having failed with my initial attempt to convert to a virtual machines using Storagecraft and VMware I decided to try again, since this time I didn't have dynamic disks on my SBS server. So I imaged the SBS server and attempted to convert it in Vmware. Unfortunately, once again the conversion failed with some obscure error. Damm, not again. Ok, abandon the VMware option, roll on Virtual PC. So I started to do a Storagecraft hardware independent restore of my SBS image to a clean Virtual PC. Problem was it was excruciatingly slow, too slow for me. So scratch that idea since I had a lot of data on my SBS box.

At this point I was beginning to question the whole migration process, it was worse than having teeth pulled. Time to take a deep breath and have a think about this for a while. After some peppermint tea and a nice lie down I deiced that perhaps the best method was to migrate my SBS 2003 installation to SBS 2003 R2. Sorry not migrate but S.W.I.N.G. using Jeff Middleton's method. That would keep the active directory but I'd get a nice new cleanly upgraded server. Yeah baby, let's do it.

So Jeff's method is basically to introduce a temporary domain controller into your existing domain and replicate the existing active directory to that machine. You then detach it from the production network and build a new network around this copied active directory. There are a few critical steps with Jeff's migration, firstly like turning off the Windows 2003 firewall (forgot about that the first time since it re-enables itself on a reboot - bugger) and secondly to ensure that during the migration you make the domain control a global catalogue server (forgot that the second time - again, bugger). Both of these oversights meant that I had to go back and do the swing migration again (why am I so stupid? I should have really concentrated on what I was doing rather than just doing it off the cuff, which you always pay the price for!).

Finally, I had a good copy of my active directory and I installed SBS 2003 R2 onto the virtual machine. Typically you know the swing migration has had a problem during replication if the Exchange Server component of SBS won't install. At last, a clean SBS box. I copied over the data that I wanted and the Exchange mail stores (which took a little while) but the great thing is that with the swing migration the Exchange databases simply load. After a little more fiddling (adding customized ISA 2004 rules, installing anti-virus and tweaking Exchange to keep the spammers out) I was done - phew.

Once again, one of the biggest advantage of virtual machines is the ability to switch the network cards in and out of the real network. In this way I could work on my migrated SBS server with it clashing the existing production server. When I was ready I simply shut down the production SBS server and brought the virtual SBS server up in its place (with the virtual network cards actually connect to the real network). Another big advantage of virtual machines is the ability to adjust the amount of memory that each server uses. So after a while I actually adjusted the RAM used by both migrated servers down to give me the ability to host more virtual PC's on this one piece of hardware.

Other benefits of 'swinging' on to a new SBS server? Bye, bye CRM 1.2. Yeah!! Why? Because it wouldn't uninstall. The ability to create a bigger boot partition (to handle those upcoming Windows Server 2003 service packs - really had to scramble to get SP2 on my machine). The opportunity to remove all the other crap that I had accumulated on my server over the years from testing this and that. Now I have a simple but extremely functional SBS server.

Two servers down, maybe this will work after all! Tune in to the next episode to get the the low down on my migration of a stand alone ISA 2004 box.