Never Upgrade

Never Upgrade

March 11, 2001

by Michael Day

In response to my article Windows 2000, The Year After. I received the following letter from David Denholm about his experience with upgrading to Windows 2000.  I found he had some interesting points that I wanted to share with others.

    Can I just add my agreement to your comment about never upgrading.
Whenever there is an upgrade then there will always be some legacy
issues with something not cleanly installed. If you want a new car,
then painting over the old one may make it look like a new car, but look
under the bonnet and you will quickly be disappointed.

    I gave myself a real challenge as my first Windows 2000 Network Upgrade.
The network was built on a Dec Alpha PDC, so there was no migration
route. At the same time I had built the server that I wanted to use for
the new network. But of Course the Windows 2000 upgrade process for a
network and the SAM requires an upgrade of the PDC, something that I had
not quite got to grips with before. So the answer was self explanatory,
put in a migration Server to provide the best of both worlds! In other
words a box was introduced as an NT4 BDC which was then promoted to a
PDC and upgraded to Win 2000 and made into a Win 2000 Domain Controller
by setting up Active Directory (just a comment about terminology: all
DCs are equal in 2000 and the use of BDC or PDC in 2000 can be confusing
as they do not exist!). Then the new DC Server could in turn be joined
as a DC (adding Active Directory) and when stable the migration box
withdrawn. The new DC then runs with the old Alpha box as a BDC (for
reversion) until it in turn can be replaced.

    This was the theory, but when you also find that Exchange 5.5 is running
on the Alpha (or any NT4 PDC/BDC) it can become more problematic. For
example Exchange is very sensitive to the type of Server that it sits
on, and restoring from to a BDC or Member Server from a copy made on a
PDC does not always work. So another recommendation: before you start
the upgrade process, separate as many of the aspects as you can before
the upgrade. I would suggest finding another box as a member server and
exporting all the Exchange functionality to this box. Once stable,
Exchange can be dropped from the PDC/BDC. Once you are ready the
Exchange functionality can be re-imported to a Windows 2000 DC, and in
keeping with the comment about never upgrading, could be imported to a
clean Exchange 2000 Server.

    I know that others will have other ideas, and at the end of the day if
it works then good! If it doesn't, then the person who advocated keeping
a spare NT4 BDC/PDC in a dark cupboard during the upgrade was a cautious
but wise IT professional. How can one really describe it? When
outlining the ideas to a member of my family, I likened software
building to cooking from a recipe. So long as it is edible this is OK,
but there are certain thing that won't work, like: putting the eggs in
the frying pan for 3 minutes before adding the oil. But at the end of
the day all the ingredients go in, and a good recipe/cook does them in
just the right order at just the right time, creating light fluffy
omelettes with flavour. Of course there are those of use who get used
to eating scrambled eggs in pursuit of the perfect omelette! The good
news in computing terms is that when you FDISK, there is no requirement
to go back to the supermarket for more ingredients.