Planning for Site Consolidation


Site consolidation involves moving Microsoft® Exchange servers from remote sites into a larger central site and allowing users in remote offices to access their mailboxes and public folders over the network.

Site consolidation provides the following benefits:

  • The Exchange topology is simplified.

  • You can administer Exchange centrally and reduce administrative costs.

  • You can make better use of hardware because there are fewer mailbox servers as well as fewer auxiliary servers (such as public folder servers, free and busy servers, connectors, bridgehead servers, and so on). A centralized datacenter can also increase scalability and availability.

  • Consolidating sites can help your organization reach the goal of running Exchange in native mode by reducing the number of Exchange 5.5 servers in the organization.

  • With fewer mailbox servers, there are fewer targets for security issues.


There are limitations associated with site consolidation. When planning for site consolidation you should familiarize yourself with the issues in Important Considerations for Site Consolidation in Mixed Mode and Site Consolidation in Mixed Mode before you proceed with site consolidation.

Before Exchange 2003 SP1, consolidating sites by moving Exchange data across administrative groups required that your Exchange organization be in native mode. However, in Exchange 2003 SP1, your organization can be in mixed mode. If you are currently running Exchange 5.5, you may decide not to upgrade all of the Exchange 5.5 servers in all sites to Exchange 2000 or Exchange 2003. Instead, you can use the site consolidation tools provided with the SP1 version of the Exchange Server Deployment Tools to guide you through the process of moving mailboxes, distribution lists, custom recipients, and public folders to the central site and retiring Exchange 5.5 servers.


If Exchange 5.5 is no longer running on any servers but your Exchange organization is still in mixed mode, or if it is relatively easy to remove the Exchange 5.5 servers from the remote site, it is recommended that you switch to native mode before you begin consolidating sites. This strategy minimizes effort and avoids the issues associated with moving Exchange data across sites and administrative groups.

For more information about the site consolidation process for mixed mode Exchange organizations, see Site Consolidation in Mixed Mode. An example site consolidation project can be found at Example: Exchange Server Site Consolidation - Proseware, Inc..