With the information I have provided, can you recommend any "best practices" for migration? Oh, by the way, this place has not run a backup in two years -- successful or otherwise. (After putting this down in writing, I'm wondering why did I take this job?) Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
My best advice is to get a lot of Advil because it sounds like you have some pain ahead of you. To be honest, your question is a bit more involved that what you can expect from these forums, but because of the complex issues involved, I did want to make a few comments on your situation.
First, before migrating any data or making any changes, you've got to address the backup issues. You're going to want to make sure you've got good backups going for both the GW and Exchange systems.
Second (and this one is more personal preference than best practices), if they haven't been taking backups, perhaps their mail data isn't that important to them. If that's the case, you may have an easier migration ahead of you. If you don't need to move the old mail data from GW into Exchange, then you'll have a lot less work.
Third, you didn't mention whether or not you already have Active Directory in place. As you may already know, Exchange 2000 not only requires Active Directory, but it also makes permanent modifications to your Active Directory schema when the first Exchange 2000 in your forest is installed. If you don't have Active Directory in your environment, stop right there. You need to do some careful planning before you can deploy Active Directory. Some companies I know of have taken more than a year to plan their Active Directory deployments.
Fourth, even if you've already deployed Active Directory, you should perform test migrations in your labs and not touch your production Active Directory until you've made your migration process bullet-proof. Keep in mind that if you blow your production Exchange 2000 install or deployment, you'll need to wipe and rebuild your Active Directory from scratch.
Finally, I would look for consultants in your area (perhaps Microsoft Consulting Services) who have performed these migrations before. The lessons they have already learned from doing so can reduce more pain for you than an entire bottle of Advil.
This was first published in March 2001