Well, I’m going through my p2v exercise with my current employer and whilst I have p2v’d many servers I had not converted an exchange server before. Our exchange server is a single windows 2003 R2 x64 box with all the exchange roles installed on it, its not a complicated setup but for us it doesn’t need to be. So googling around I found quite a few horror stories of failed p2v attempts. So with a degree of uncertainty I planned for the exchange conversion.

I started off my stopping and disabling these services on my exchange server (because of this obviously you need to carry this out within a maintenance window as exchange will be down for a couple of hours at least.)

MS Exchange Active Directory Topology
MS Exchange File Distribution
MS Exchange Information Store
MS Exchange Mail Submission
MS Exchange mailbox Assistants
MS Exchange replication service
MS Exchange search indexer
MS Exchange service host
MS Exchange system attendant
MS Exchange transport
MS Exchange transport log sear
microsoft search (exchange)
sql server (blackberry)
sql server browser
sql server vss writer
Backup exec

Now there are a couple of services there that are specific to my set up but you get the idea, anything exchange or sql based I stopped and disabled. I then carried out the conversion as per any other p2v using the standalone vmware convertor program. I also wanted to shrink the servers D drive as it was way too big for the mailstore so I configured that as well at this point.
When the conversion had completed I powered down the old physical server and powered on the vm. Then I removed the brand specific drivers and applications (such as HP and dell drivers and array helpers). The I installed the vm guest tools and configured the networking.

I then reset all the disabled services to automatic and restarted the vm. a few nervous minutes later I was able to view emails in owa, use active sync and send/receive emails through outlook, so it all in all seems to have gone well. At least much better than my googling was suggesting it might.

So in my experience of converting exchange server 2007 all you need to do is stop the exchange and sql services (plus any backup agents you may have) and disable them.
Run the conversion using the current vmware standalone converter
Power off the physical
Power on the VM
Remove all of the hardware specific drivers and applications
Install the vm guest tools
Configure the networking
Re-enable the disabled services and reboot the server.
Then check the event logs etc just to make sure windows isn’t complaining about anything.
Then you just need to let your users know that it is safe to use outlook etc again.

The trouble I guess with p2ving exchange is that once you have brought the services back online and it starts servicing mail requests its pretty much impossible to turn the old physical server back on as you will lose any recent transactions that the exchange vm made. So if there is something thats not quite right with it then you really have to power on through and find a fix for it rather than revert to reconverting or powering on the old physical.

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