Windows Server 2003 End of Support – Are You Ready?
The founder of Microsoft, Bill Gates, said “The only big companies that succeed will be those that obsolete their own products before someone else does.” Even when product lines are very popular, functional obsolescence as well as the need to succeed has driven Microsoft to stop offering support and kill many applications.
This time around, Windows Server 2003 will be put to pasture on July 14, 2015 after 12 years of service. When it was introduced in 2003, the world was a much different place, with mobile, broadband and cloud technology still in their nascent stage. As Takeshi Numoto, Corporate Vice President of Cloud and Enterprise Marketing at Microsoft, wrote in the company blog, “My current mobile phone exceeds the original Windows Server 2003 memory and processor requirements.”
The scale and scope of today’s applications exploit the processing power of new technologies. migrating to the new Windows Server is extremely important before the end of service (EOS), takes effect a little over six months from now. The new solutions will improve performance, reliability and the flexibility to adapt and scale to meet unlimited demand.
Before the new platform can be used, current Server 2003 users have to implement a migration strategy that ensures a seamless transition. Takeshi Numoto – Corporate Vice President, Cloud and Enterprise Marketing, Microsoft, suggests identifying any remaining instances of Windows Server 2003, analyzing which workloads are running on those instances, and choosing the right migration path.
Some of the migration options Microsoft recommends include:
- Consolidating physical servers or paid virtualization platforms.
- Migrating workloads to get the latest productivity innovations.
- Upgrading from SQL Server 2005 to SQL Server 2014 to achieve mission-critical performance.
- Migrating Web applications to Microsoft Azure or Cloud OS Network.
- Updating custom or line of business applications to support a globally connected mobile workforce.
You Don’t Have to Migrate All at Once
At the end of the day, there really is no alternative to migrating away from WS2003. All the same, while waiting for programmers to update their applications and organizations to complete the transition, there are ways to maintain business continuity while mitigating stress, complexity and risk.
Over the years, many programmers have developed customized applications that run exclusively on Windows Server 2003. For users of these applications as well as for the IT staff, the thought of suddenly being unable to access their mission-critical applications can be distressing. One alternative to “all at once approach” is to run the applications on a virtualized 2003 server, mitigating security and support risk. You can then use an access solution from a vendor like Ericom Software to provide secure and centrally managed remote access to applications and desktops running on those Windows 2003 servers.
Once the transition / migration measures have taken place, your organization will be protected from many of the risks of running an unsupported platform. Just because Microsoft stops supporting Windows Server 2003, doesn’t mean it stops running. However, doing so will introduce vulnerabilities to your entire organization and compliance violations. Microsoft recommends consulting your legal, security and audit teams to make sure you are meeting the compliances that address your particular industry and the provisions they have around security.
According to Spiceworks, which drew its data from more than six million IT professionals globally, 62 percent of US companies are still running Windows Server 2003. Globally, 74 percent of manufacturers, 73 percent of government bodies and 71 percent of organizations in the finance, transport and healthcare sectors also still use the platform.
The popularity of the operating system is undeniable, which is why not migrating can put your organization in danger. Whether one of the many companies that choose to delay the process are your partners, customers or vendors, any interaction you have with them could be a gateway to introduce the vulnerabilities Microsoft mentioned.
Organizations have many reasons for not migrating to the new systems as budget constraints, compatibility issues and time all play valid roles. But, today’s landscape of risk stresses the importance of having the latest systems in place from the top down, in order to minimize or eliminate any catastrophic scenarios.