In the last few weeks, I've had an opportunity to give a presentation about the Migration options with SBS 2008 to a couple of different groups, one in Dallas and one in Detroit. As I went through the presentations, it became clear that the majority of folks in both rooms had not looked at the SBS 2008 migration document that's been produced by Microsoft, mostly because they didn't even know it was out there. So even though I will be giving the presentation at a few more groups over the next few months, I wanted to get my key point about Migration and SBS 2008 out there for those people who won't be able to hear about it from one of these presentations.
My talk focused on the MS Migration story for a variety of reasons. One, I know Jeff Middleton isn't ready with the Swing Migration process for SBS 2008 (but I also know he's working on it), and I really can't speak to a process I haven't seen. Plus, I'm not trying to take the thunder from Jeff about Swing when he does release the SBS 2008 edition. But I have gone through the MS migration process several times as part of the research for the SBS 2008 Unleashed book and the beta testing for the product, and doing the migrations uncovered for me what I believe is the most important thing you can do as a consultant to get ready for SBS 2008:
Learn the migration process. Period.
Whether you use the MS process or Jeff's Swing Migration, you will benefit greatly from starting to work with the migration process now. Don't wait until you get in front of your first migration for a client and try to review the white paper the night before. Don't download the Swing docs on the way to the client site. In fact, don't even schedule time with a client for migration until you've spent time learning how to do a migration.
There will be benefits and drawbacks to both migration processes. Learn what those are and understand why you are choosing one migration process over another. There will be times that a Swing will be the best migration method. There will be times when the MS process will be the best migration method. If you don't know both processes inside and out, you will not be able to make the correct decision for your client, which could end up being very costly for both of you.
We have what is supposed to be the final version of the Microsoft white paper on migration (in both web form and CHM (compiled help file) form) already available, so there is no reason you cannot start reading up on migration right now. You should, in fact. Then when Jeff releases the SBS 2008 version of the Swing Migration process, you can read through that and get familiar with it as well. Then you'll be well-versed in how to get your existing SBS 2003 customers onto SBS 2008 in the best way possible.
The other key reason I believe it's important to learn about migration is that it is the best way to learn about SBS 2008 in general. If you just join the beta and download and install the product, you'll get to see the surface of what's going on. But the migration process touches on every aspect of SBS 2008 - from Active Directory to Exchange to SharePoint to Group Policy and so on - so when you go through the migration process, you will learn about each of those apects of SBS 2008, and if you have not seen SBS 2008 yet, this will be a good way to get your hands dirty.
I will be up front, though. This will take time and effort on your part. The migration process is not easy, and not fast. If you try to skim through the docs or speed throgh a few trial runs,you WILL miss key aspects of the process and could run into problems down the road.
If you plan to be serious about supporting SBS 2008 as part of your business venture, start now to learn about migration so you'll be in a position to succeed when you are ready to move your clients, not in a position to fail miserably.