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What is an Exchange&Reg; Server Migration?

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  • Written By: Jamie Kavanagh
  • Edited By: C. Wilborn
  • Last Modified Date: 29 September 2016
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Exchange® server migration is the process of moving a Microsoft Exchange® platform from one system to another. This can be an existing infrastructure being moved to faster servers, or a newer version of Exchange® being implemented in an existing infrastructure. Most often, the latter example is what is referred to as a migration. When newer versions of software is released and offers significant benefits to the users, an administrator will often decided to update the software. This isn't a decision to be taken lightly, as there is considerable time and expense involved.

The migration process itself is slow and time consuming, and takes a lot of planning. In the case of Exchange®, planning is key so as to not lose data during the move. Backups have to be made, servers and the network put in place, and the data copied from one set of servers to the other. In an email environment, which Exchange® is, there has to be as little downtime as possible. Many workers depend on email to communicate and to do their jobs, and working without it can cause major problems.

The migration process usually follows a certain pattern. A copy of the new application is acquired and tested in a lab or isolated environment. This is to make sure it is compatible with the other software the organization uses, and that the existing hardware can cope with it.

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Once tested, a limited rollout is usually implemented. This involves having separate hardware running alongside the existing infrastructure. The new systems will have the new version of Exchange® and a copy of everything it needs to take over from the old. This will include any third-party applications, .pst files with the email data, and anything else it needs to work.

Once everything is in place, a single location will be switched over to use the new system, and the migration has begun. Exchange® server migration is tricky because it involves several interdependent servers that all need to be changed at once. This is why a second setup is needed, to minimize the downtime and the effect it will have on productivity.

The location that uses the new system will be monitored and feedback gleaned from users. Once proper testing has been complete and the results accepted, other locations will be rolled out in exactly the same way. The rollout is complete when the whole infrastructure has been migrated to the new version of Exchange®.

In larger organizations, Exchange® server migration can take months of planning, testing, and implementation. This is why it is not something to be undertaken lightly. Whatever the size or scope of the work, however, the process of Exchange® server migration is the same.

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