I have an interesting and somewhat unique situation here that I'd really like to hear your opinion on.
First, some background information:
I run a small business that focuses on building custom computers, workstations and occasionally servers. I generally do not provide any business/enterprise software related services and instead focus on hardware, though I do have some server/networking related knowledge and experience, mostly limited to the deployment of simple, smaller scaled and non mission critical setups.
A small business owner approached me after purchasing two office computers from us to replace his aging slow ones. He told me that his office server is also in urgent need of replacement because the hardware was dying and problematic, and the software was also buggy and possibly malware-infected. I told him sure we can build one, but he wanted an all-in-one solution that includes both the server and software migration since he was apparently unhappy with his IT guy and just want a fresh restart. So I took a deeper look into his current setup and here's what I found:
- He has only 2 computers (employee workstations) plus the one server in his Office.
- His employees' job mostly involves exchanging emails with clients and accessing/managing client information through a proprietary CRM system (locally hosted, data driven by an Access database).
- Now here's the kicker: for such a small scaled setup, with 3 users total (including him), someone apparently convinced him to purchase a serious Xeon server 5 years ago along with full blown versions of Windows Server 2008 and Exchange Server 2010. So the server is essentially running AD as domain controller, Exchange Server which hosts emails for 3 people, the small CRM server, and finally, remote desktop that he occasionally uses to access stuff away from office.
- Apparently, the Exchange Server is installed on top of the DC itself, which is highly discouraged for a variety reasons.
- All his and his employees' email clients (including the workstations, personal laptops and smart phones) apparently are Outlook, which he has grown very used to and cannot live without.
My initial response to him was that you really don't need a server at all. Consider a nice cloud/hosted solution that runs $5-$10 per user, that will save so much money and without all the headaches of running a server. Note that I'm an honest person and I like to tell the truth, even though in this case it means I may lose the potentially lucrative sale. Surprisingly, he *likes* the idea of having his own server, including a reason that I cannot really argue against: being a financial adviser with highly sensitive information by nature, he likes all his data, including emails, stored privately and locally, so that Uncle Sam and all the 3 letter agencies cannot easily sniff around with or without his knowledge (of course you can call him paranoid, but that's a different topic altogether).
So here we are, as small as he might be, he does want his Exchange Server running in his office. And yet he is budget-conscious this time around–it's not like I can really bring myself to recommend two servers (one Exchange and one DC) to him.
So given the scenario, what do you think is the best way to help him migrate to a new server? We'll be using a new server that runs Windows Server 2012 R2, and re-use his old Exchange license. But are we really going to put Exchange on top of DC again? And even if we go down this route, is there a clean way to transfer the DC? My understanding is that if we set up the new server and promote it as DC, the old server cannot even be demoted because it has Exchange on it (which is one of the reason *not* to do it in the first place), is this going to be a problem? I feel there really is no reason to have a domain in the first place for his setup, yet the Exchange server apparently must run in a domain.
Your advice on this will be greatly appreciated!
Edited by startover909, 18 November 2014 - 11:45 PM.