Friends don't let friends migrate Active Directory alone

Even with the right vendor tools, domain renaming is fraught with gotchas. Turn to the IT community for help getting the job done

One aspect of the IT world I truly appreciate is the community's generosity with their knowledge and time. This past week, I would have been in some serious trouble with an Active Directory migration had it not been for people's willingness to share their experiences and fixes online. It's not the first time I've benefited, nor will it be the last.

With more organizations upgrading their legacy Active Directories, as well as merging or simply changing domain names, IT admins have to figure out how to restructure. For some, the domain rename process using the Rendom utility may be the way to go. But for anyone who's worked through the process with legacy servers like Windows Server 2003, you'll agree with Microsoft's warning that "the domain rename process is complex and it requires a great deal of care in planning and execution."

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On the plus side, you could upgrade your servers to Windows Server 2012, but that may require a couple of upgrades from one OS version to the next because you cannot leap directly to Windows Server 2012 if you are running anything older than Windows Server 2008 R2. From there, you could then work through the rename process. The renaming is much more straightforward in Windows Server 2012 than in any version, as this simple guide from certified trainer Mohd Hamizi shows.

This past week, I faced an Active Directory forest with a single domain that needed to have its named changed. It was running on Windows Server 2008. I thought of upgrading first to Windows Server 2008 R2, then to Windows Server 2012, but the domain also needed some serious cleanup. I decided to use the Active Directory Migration Tool (ADMT) 3.2 to move to the new forest and clean up the Active Directory as a result -- a fresh start.

This wasn't my first rodeo with ADMT; you might recall that I used Version 3.1 back in 2010 to migrate a 50,000-user environment spread over 60 domains into a single domain. The process has changed little in Version 3.2, though the documentation has become an even bigger beast of 250-plus pages. It was so monstrous that I couldn't face reading the manual again. Thankfully, I didn't have to. Through the TechNet wiki site, I found a three-part guide called "Interforest Migration with ADMT 3.2" that had step-by-step screenshots to walk through the entire process. What a life-saver!

I followed the steps and wrapped up the whole process in a couple of hours. Most amazing about this "living" guide is that there have been 24 revisions, some done by the original poster and some done by others, including Microsoft employees who've pitched in.

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