With the announcement of SBS 2011 recently, many resellers are looking forward and planning future sales for their clients. One of the key questions that comes up is around migration to SBS 2011 in both versions. Currently there are a few methods to get to SBS 2011. Your choices are using the Microsoft Whitepaper method, Jeff Middleton’s Swing Migration method or Karl Palachuck’s Zero Day Migration method.
Microsoft Migration Wizard
Microsoft White papers that will guide you how to move from SBS 2003 and SBS 2008 to SBS 2008. This process whilst it takes time, does work quite well and has been the main process I’ve used for my clients to move over to SBS 2008. Based on current beta whitepapers that I’ve seen and used from Microsoft, this process will be pretty much the same in SBS 2011. Microsoft are planning to document the path from SBS 2003 and SBS 2008 to SBS 2011 using these whitepapers and the so called Migration Wizard (I don’t call it a wizard personally as it does not automate much at all but guides you to the steps you need to do).
With respect to SBS 2011 Essentials however, I’m yet to see any whitepapers from Microsoft like this and therefore I’m unsure of what the strategy is. I know that according to an OEM/System builder webcast recently there are config file switches that you can use to put Aurora into a migration mode, but that so far Microsoft has not provided a public release of further documentation. Therefore I’d hazard a guess to say that yes – there will be a documented way to get from SBS 2003/2008 to SBS 2011 Essentials, but due to the fact the product won’t be released until H1 2011, they’ve not announced it as yet.
Regardless of which version you are migrating from, your new server will end up with a new name and new IP different from the old server. The majority of the migration can be done during normal business hours with only some items needing to be done outside of business hours. I’ve done enough of these now to know that with proper planning, they work pretty well and if you don’t mind having a new server name for your SBS 2011 server then it’s just fine.
Jeff has been documenting the process of swinging over to new servers for many years now. Jeff was a little slow out of the gate with his swing process over to SBS 2008 and has vowed not to do the same with SBS 2011. I know that he’s made announcement’s that he has documentation coming that will be targeted to land around the same times as the products are in general availability. Jeff’s method provides for you to build a temporary domain controller and use that as a basis to build your SBS 2011 server. The advantage here is that you can build the new network offsite and take it onsite only when you are ready to cutover the clients machines. It also gives you a way to test the migration without impacting the clients network before you actually proceed with the build of the new server.
Karl has taken an alternate angle on the migration and whilst I must say I have the book, I’ve not yet taken the time to read it all or give it a try (sorry Karl). From other reports though I hear that Karls method is not just a technical process, but an entire business process that he guides you through and that the process is quite complete and detailed (something I’ve come to expect from Karl). I’d suggest you check it out to see if it fits for your business/client requirements.
The elephant on the table is that there is NO in-place upgrade at all to get to any version of SBS 2011. In-place upgrades for the server environments have been dead for a while now, it’s now all about migration hence my desire to write this article so that people can understand the options available.
Ok – so there you have it – the current state of play with respect to the options available to you for migrating to SBS 2011 and SBS 2011 Essentials. Can you make any assumptions or final decision yet? Absolutely NOT. You need to get your hands on the final products before you do that and evaluate which method is right for you and your clients. Find out which method works for you. Just because I’ve used the Microsoft method without failure for my clients, does not mean it’s right for you and your clients.