What does Windows Server 2003 going End of Life mean to your business?

On July 14, 2015, Microsoft will end extended support for Windows Server 2003 and Windows Server 2003 R2. Mainstream support finished in July 2010 and it has been in “extended support” since then. Organisations that fail to migrate from Windows Server 2003/R2 before this date will not be compliant with existing business standards and possibly expose themselves to vulnerabilities. While many business owners and IT departments are well aware of this fact, globally there are still nearly a million servers currently running live applications on the Windows Server 2003 platform. Now is the ideal time to ask yourself even if your Windows 2003 server is stable at this time, do you want to risk running your business applications on a server that will not be supported after 14th July 2015?

What end of support means?

No Updates –37 critical updates were released in 2013 for Windows Server 2003/R2 under Extended Support. No updates will be developed or released after end of support.

No Compliance – Lack of compliance with various standards has risks, these may include several regulatory and industry standards for which compliance can no longer be achieved. For example, lack of compliance with the Payment Card Industry (PCI) Data Security Standards might mean companies such as Visa and MasterCard will no longer do business with you.

No Safe Haven – Both virtualized and physical instances of Windows Server 2003 are vulnerable and would not pass a compliance audit. Staying put will cost more in the end as maintenance costs for aging hardware will also increase and many applications will also not be supported by the vendor.

There may be a number of reasons why you have not yet upgraded your systems such as the perceived challenges of upgrading applications, the presence of custom and legacy applications and budget and resource constraints. Speak to Zenzero today and we can help you understand what this really means to your business. Now is the time to act, you must start planning your migration now.

While July 2015 may feel like a long way off, now is really the best time to start the project. A last minute migration could be problematic. The last minute approach to upgrades often results in problems, errors or inconsistencies with security, stability or functionality. These types of issues with your applications require immediate remediation and most often programmatic revisions which can impact on business productivity and result in further costs. Therefore Zenzero believe that waiting until the last minute to perform your Windows 2003 server migration is a risky proposition.

Fortunately, migrating to a supported server operating system can mitigate these risks and deliver valuable benefits and efficiencies. Windows Server 2003 is the last 32 bit server software released by Microsoft (although Windows Server 2008 did allow a 32bit version) Windows Server 2008 and 2012 are 64bit systems. With the cost of Memory falling in price and disk capacities growing at a faster level than ever before today organisations can source server hardware for the same price as the lower capacity, slower servers they invested in at the same time as the old operating system. Therefore you are able to replace the equipment purchased to run Windows Server 2003 for a similar (or lower) price than you paid years ago but with enormous growth in capacity and performance.

As a Microsoft Gold Partner Zenzero have the skills and experience to design the new systems, aid the migration of key server and network services across to the new platforms and manage the new system on an ongoing basis. Zenzero’s consultants have experience of migrating customers to 64 bit versions and can help by managing the third party suppliers through the process, allowing your company to benefit from the new features and performance increases inherent in moving to the latest versions of the applications.

So what are your Options?

1. Stay Put. Assuming your business actually relies on applications running on Windows 2003 server then this option is only practical if you have already started replacing all your applications and servers with a new architecture from the ground up. If you are planning a move then the risk of unsupported servers/applications, is offset by the benefit of focusing all your efforts on the new system.

2. Upgrade The Server Operating System. It’s highly likely the physical server itself is several years old (or more) and the risk of a physical component of the server failing increases with age, therefore you’re solving one problem but leaving the legacy hardware problem for a later date. Therefore Zenzero consider this an extremely high risk option. It is also difficult to guarantee that you won’t encounter any significant application errors upon the server upgrade and as this is likely to be a production server then you need to be prepared for a services outage of 48 hours (or more)

3. Migrate and Upgrade. Zenzero believe that in almost every case this is the best, most logical and cost effective option. The team at Zenzero will assist with best practice planning for your Windows 2003 server migration. With all projects our rule for successful migrations is to be thorough and plan ahead. As a Microsoft Gold Partner and Dell Preferred partner Zenzero can scope and design your new solution, provide all the software and hardware required and then build, configure and commission your new server.