Upgrade fun: SBS 2003 to EBS 2008

Last weekend I received a call for help from a mate who was having trouble with his first Essential Business Server 2008 (EBS 2008) installation. He was upgrading and existing Small Business Server 2003 site to Essential Business Server. The EBS 2008 environment is virtualized and installed with SBS 2003 still in place.

Their are many good reasons to consider EBS 2008 when choosing and upgrade path from SBS 2003. EBS 2008 scales to 300 users, includes System Centre Essentials, Forefront TMG and many other goodies. EBS 2008 can be virtualized onto a single server, keeping the hardware requirements to a minimum.

Good Stuff
In an upgrade scenario, EBS 2008 is installed side-by-side with SBS 2003. You have 21 days to complete the upgrade before the SBS 2003 server will stop talking to the network (I haven’t actually seen what happens, but my advice is make sure you don’t have to either). Both the SBS and EBS Exchange servers can exist together during the 21 day window.

The best thing about the in-place upgrade option is that you don’t need to touch workstations or user accounts and Exchange mailboxes can be migrated to the EBS 2008 server slowly over a few days. This really takes the pressure off and is a big timesaver.

A few issues
The installation had a few issues which we’re resolved with some excellent advise from a nice guy at Microsoft (I’ll call him Mark). Twitter really comes into its own here, I was in New Zealand and Mark was in Texas, USA. Posting cries for help with the hashtag #EBS08 resulted in excellent advice very quick. Thanks guys!

The first issue was an error installing .NET 3.5 on the Management Server. The fix for this problem can be found here – EBS .NET 3.5 installation issue

The second issue was an error installing Silverlight on the Management Server. The fix was to unplug the NIC and reboot the Management Server to continue the installation. Thanks again Mark.

The real panic set in when we started installing the Messaging Server. The first issue was with Exchange 2007. The installation failed with an error saying that the “System Attendant Mailbox was inaccessible”. Checking the Application Event Log showed that Exchange was trying to install the Information Stores to E: drive. Oops, this was actually a ISO image mounted as a drive…Restarting the installation and changing drive letters resolved the issue.

At this point we got stuck with this error “Failed to create Edge Subscription”. After a lot of investigation we decided to call it a day and keep the users mailboxes on SBS 2003. Thank goodness for the 21 days. A couple of tweets for help to #EBS08 and I found I wasn’t alone. Relief! Then Mark responded again, this time with a link about time. EBS Timezone issue.

I didn’t think the error was exactly what we were getting so emailed Mark C:\Program Files\Windows Essential Business Server\Logs\mmssetup.log and went to bed. The next morning, he replied pointing out the Time Sync error in the log that I had missed. At that point we noticed the time between the SBS 2003 server and EBS server was out of sync by 5 minutes. Synchronizing the clocks and restarting the Messaging Server install from scratch resolved the issue. Happiness!

Here is the error message from MMSSETUP.LOG clearly indicating that time was the issue

[2872],”2009/12/05 23:12:29.890″,”MMSNet_Exchange”,”Information”,”Command: New-EdgeSubscription -FileName:C:\Program Files\Windows Essential Business Server\Data\MmsEdgeSubscription0.903150528158597.xml -Site:Default-First-Site-Name -Force”

[2872],”2009/12/05 23:12:30.078″,”MMSNet_Exchange”,”Error”,”ImportSubscriptionOnMessaging failed Microsoft.EssentialBusinessServer.Common.PowerShell.MmsCommandException: The clock setting for the Edge Transport server to be subscribed and the computer on which you are running this task are not synchronized. Make sure the clocks on all Exchange servers in your organization and your Edge Transport servers are synchronized. —> System.InvalidOperationException: The clock setting for the Edge Transport server to be subscribed and the computer on which you are running this task are not synchronized. Make sure the clocks on all Exchange servers in your organization and your Edge Transport servers are synchronized.

— End of inner exception stack trace —

Although the installation had a few issues, we were never stuck without options. The end users weren’t aware of the issues and user impact was almost zero.

If you are considering doing an EBS installation, join twitter and search for #EBS08. You’ll find a great group of people who love to share experiences and give advice when it is needed.

3 thoughts on “Upgrade fun: SBS 2003 to EBS 2008

  1. To be fair putting a call for help on Twitter is yelling out and hoping somoene listens. In your case they did. In others they may not.

    There are dedicated forums and yahoogroups to help EBS users so don’t forget to use what resources that are there specificially for helping people.

    1. I didn’t know about the Yahoo Forums. Can you post the URL?

      Quite a good group of people with excellent knowledge following the #EBS08 hashtag so it’s not a bad place to ask for help 🙂

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