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This chapter is from the book

This chapter is from the book

When Is the Right Time to Migrate?

When Windows Server 2008 R2 first shipped in the summer of 2009, many organizations wondered about the right time to migrate to the new operating system. It used to be that you waited until the first service pack shipped before installing any Microsoft product; however, Windows Server 2008 R2 is effectively an update to Windows Server 2008 that is post–Service Pack 2. And early adopter beta participants found Windows Server 2008 R2 (and Windows 7) to be extremely stable and reliable and, thus, began implementation of the operating systems in production environments six+ months before the operating systems were released. So, the decision of when to implement Windows Server 2008 R2 comes down to the same decision on migration to any new technology—identify the value received by implementing Windows Server 2008 R2, test the solution in a limited environment, and roll out Windows Server 2008 R2 when you are comfortable that the product meets the needs of your organization.

This introductory chapter notes the many features and functions built in to Windows Server 2008 R2 that have helped other organizations make the decision that Windows Server 2008 R2 has significant value to plan a migration and new server implementation. Improvements in security, performance, and manageability provide benefits to organizations looking to minimize administration costs, while providing more functionality to users.

The cost and effort to migrate to Windows Server 2008 R2 vary based on the current state of an organization's networking environment, as well as the Windows Server 2008 R2 features and functions the organization wants to implement. Some organizations begin their migration process to Windows Server 2008 R2 by adding a Windows Server 2008 R2 member server into an existing Windows 2000/2003/2008 network. Others choose to migrate their Active Directory to Windows Server 2008 R2 as their introduction to the new operating system.

Adding a Windows Server 2008 R2 System to a Windows 2003/2008 Environment

Many organizations want to add in a specific Windows Server 2008 R2 function such as Windows Server 2008 R2 Remote Desktop Services (previously called Terminal Services), Hyper-V R2 virtualization, DirectAccess, or BranchCache. Such functions can be installed on Windows Server 2008 R2 member servers in an existing Active Directory 2003 networking environment. This allows an organization to get Windows Server 2008 R2 application capabilities fairly quickly and easily without having to do a full migration to Active Directory 2008 R2. In many cases, a Windows Server 2008 R2 member server can simply be added to an existing network without ever affecting the existing network. This addition provides extremely low network impact but enables an organization to prototype and test the new technology, pilot it for a handful of users, and slowly roll out the technology to the client base as part of a regular system replacement or upgrade process.

Some organizations have replaced all their member servers with Windows Server 2008 R2 systems over a period of weeks or months as a preparatory step to eventually migrate to a Windows Server 2008 R2 Active Directory structure.

Migrating from Windows 2003 and Windows 2008 Active Directory to Windows Server 2008 R2 Active Directory

For organizations that already have a Windows 2003 or Windows 2008 Active Directory environment, migrating to Windows Server 2008 R2 for Active Directory functionality can provide access to several additional capabilities that require a Windows network to be running on Windows Server 2008 R2. Some of the Windows Server 2008 R2 technologies that require implementation of the Windows Server 2008 R2 Active Directory include Active Directory Recycle Bin, Managed Service Accounts, PowerShell Administration, and Offline Domain Join capabilities as the most popular solutions.

Fortunately, organizations that already have Windows 2003 or 2008 Active Directory in place have completed the hard part of the Active Directory implementation process. Effectively, Windows Server 2008 R2 uses the same Active Directory organizational structure that was created with Windows 2003 or 2008, so forests, domain trees, domains, organizational units, sites, groups, and users all transfer directly into Windows Server 2008 R2 Active Directory. If the organizational structure in Windows 2003 or 2008 meets the needs of the organization, the migration to Windows Server 2008 R2 is predominantly just the insertion of a Windows Server 2008 R2 global catalog server into the existing Windows 2003 or 2008 Active Directory domain to perform a global catalog update to Windows Server 2008 R2 Active Directory.

Of course, planning, system backup, and prototype testing—covered in Chapter 16, "Migrating from Windows 2003/2008 to Windows Server 2008 R2"—help minimize migration risks and errors and lead to a more successful migration process. However, the migration process from Windows 2003 and Windows Server 2008 to Windows Server 2008 R2 is a relatively easy migration path for organizations to follow.

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