Relocating a Unity server from site to site

Unanswered Question
Feb 7th, 2007

Unity 4.05 UM with Exchange2000 partner server and W2k OS in one geographical site, part of a global deployment of one AD infrastructure- customer wants to centralize all mailboxes in one location in North America. I currently have an extra Unity 4.05 UM with Exchange 2003 and W2K OS installed at that site where the mailboxes are to be moved to. My question is can I do a DIRT backup of the existing site (only difference here is the e2k sys tools v/ e2k3 system tools on each server), they are both servers in the same dialing domain. Can I do a DIRT restore in this scenario and bring the server back online, and then at a later date will move the mailboxes and reconfigure unity to point to the new partner mailstore as I usually would - will this work?

Or do you think it would be better to just power down the two unity servers (failover) and have them shipped to the new site, re-IP them accordingly and then bring them back up. (of course would do a DIRT backup and pull a disk first, all the usual good stuff). Is that all I would have to do? UTIM information wont change at this time, will still be pointing to the same CM cluster. (just need to repoint the CM cluster to this unity server?)

Pros and Cons greatly appreciated.

I have this problem too.
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sopayne Wed, 02/07/2007 - 17:59


If you are planning to move the servers, i.e. powering down/shipping to new site/powering back up, then I think these are some of the things you should consider.


- subscribers will be without vmail for the time it takes to perform the move

- you would need to address any AD house cleaning (what comes to mind is correcting the Site information in AD for the Unity server/Exch server, but there may be more to do I'd depend on your AD Administrator to ensure all of those tasks are taken care of)

- to be extra safe, have a successful data back up (good planning, by the way), and 2 spare servers (one for Unity, one for Exch) at the new site


- minimal changes/installs of required software (Exch/SQL/OS/Unity itself) from a Unity Admin perspective

- you will not have to get a new Unity license that corresponds with the new server's MAC address

If I understood your other option, I think you are talking about taking a DiRT backup from server at location A, then performing a DiRT restore on a new server at location B.


- effort required with regards to installing the OS/SQL/Exch tools/Unity itself

- reliant on successful DiRT restore

- you will have to get a new Unity license that corresponds with the new server's MAC address


- minimal downtime for Unity subscribers

- if original server is left in place, easy to fall back to that if needed

- the bulk of the work can be done without impacting the subscribers, with a switch over (hot cut)during your planned maintenance period

By the way, this document covers how to re-IP a Unity server:

This covers how to move Unity to another domain:

I don't think you intended to make a domain change (you said "one AD infrastructure"), but I wanted to include the how-to document just in case. And, if changing domains is also part of what you plan to do, then that requires a re-install from the OS up, so I'd go with performing the re-install at the new location.

As far as moving mailboxes, keep in mind that if there are both an Exchange 2000 server and an Exchange 2003 server in the AD Domain that Unity is in, Unity must partner with the Exch 2003 server.

How to change Unity's partner Exchange Server:

Also, to ensure proper functionality, the round trip delay between Unity and Exchange should be no more than 40ms:

So, as long as the round trip delay is not more than 40ms, you shouldn't have to make mailbox moves from one server to another, until after the initial move is accomplished.

My response covers the basics-- there may be some other caveats given your specific deployment, but you have already put together two good options and have thought about most of the pitfalls, so I think if you take a look at the links I included here, you should be able to get the rest of your answers.

I hope this helps. Good luck!

shmcderm Thu, 02/08/2007 - 06:00

Good advice.

Ive done this scenario many times with customers. The best and easiest way is to do a Dirt backup/Restore.

maratimer_2 Thu, 02/08/2007 - 07:11

Excellent information - thank you so much for such detailed feedback.

I only have two questions out of your info - you stated that if there are both an Exchange 2000 server and an Exchange 2003 server in the AD Domain that Unity is in, Unity must partner with the Exch 2003 server. Is this a best practice or is this a hard rule? I ask as we have several production unity servers partnered with Exchange 2000 as well as several partnered with Exchange 2003 in one AD structure (we are in the process of repointing unity to exchange 2003 partner servers as the exchange team completes upgrades) - but we are working without any major issues (famous last words)..I was not aware that unity could not operate in a mixed envt such as I have described.

Also, when discussing the DIRT scenario. I already have a server built and configured in the new location, but it was installed with exchange 2003 system tools and is partnered with an exchange 2003 server. The original destination that I would want to do the DIRT backup from is identical in every other way except for the fact that I have exchange 2000 system tools partnered with an exchange 2000 server running on it. Would a DIRT backup from the server with e2k tools on it work to a server with e2k3 tools work?

just found on other conversation per Jeff L - DiRT could care less about the OS version or the version of Exchange (as noted in the DiRT help file). As long as the version of Unity matches exactly and the new installation you're restoring to is fully functional prior to restore, you should be fine.

So I take that to read that exchange version difference is not an issue for restore.

Cant thank you enough for your feedback, you really have been a great help.

maratimer_2 Thu, 02/08/2007 - 07:18

One other question - I currently have about 2000 subscribers on this unity server. I would do a DIRT backup of configuration only (not messages as they are off-box) and do a restore to the new server. Any guestimates as to how long it would take to restore such a configuration?

When you do a restore, I am assuming that Unity resynchs everything in AD so that everything is updated on the server side? All I would really need to do is provide a new URL with the new server name to the users for Ciscopca and viewmail settings? Anything else?

lindborg Thu, 02/08/2007 - 07:42

There's no accurate way to estimate the synch time - there are actually two synchs involved. The first creates or binds to objects in the directory found in the local datbase (subscribers, locations, public distribution lists), then a global synch is called for which will do a couple things - it synchs DL membership information to the extent it can and pulls in all global object info from the GC.

Both of these can take a while but the 2nd varries wildly depending on your network configuraiton and size. I've seen 50 subscriber restores take 4 hours and I've seen 400 user backups of a VM only system with no DLs in a small network take 45 minutes. There's really no way I can give you a formula that wont have plus or minus several hundred percent.

maratimer_2 Thu, 02/08/2007 - 07:55

Thanks for the feedback, based on your comments, I will plan a Friday evening restore to give us the weekend to complete. There are about 20,000 global subscribers in this configuration, 2,000 on this unity server and lots of DLs. Once completed, I'll update this post with actual time to complete for informational purposes only.

lindborg Thu, 02/08/2007 - 08:01

The DLs and their membership information will be the biggest hit - querying and pushing even top level DL info in AD is a slow afair...


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