Many of you probably remember going through a similar process as Windows XP neared its end-of-life date last year. Finding answers to questions about compatibility, costs, and security, not to mention leaving end-users with a product that was unfamiliar to them. We now face the same situation with the same questions, but this time with all editions of Windows Server 2003. July 14, 2015 marks the date that extended support for all 2003 editions stops, leaving customers who haven’t migrated off with the daunting task of using and maintaining a product the vendor no longer supports.
Is it really that important to move off of Server 2003 if your environment is running at the moment?
The short answer is yes. The slightly longer answer is yes, because it may run fine now, but the minute something goes wrong is the minute you need the support Microsoft provides to its current product line. In the event of a crashed system or corrupted OS, the result will be a new server instance anyway, so you might as well migrate gracefully with all data intact. The servers however will continue to operate normally after July 14.
Another consideration for server operating systems is compliance.
After the end-of-life date, Microsoft will no longer release software updates and security patches for its 2003 line of server operating systems. Any company with these servers still in operation would be leaving not only the information on those servers vulnerable, but a compromised server could also leave the rest of the network open to exploit as well. This would bring about issues for any company that requires compliance with any financial regulations or privacy/security standards.
There is the additional cost of maintaining the aging operating system as well.
Because of additional time to troubleshoot and maintain, Gartner, Inc. released a report last year recommending that companies budget an additional $1500 per 2003 server per year to try and account for the price of keeping aging systems in place. Recovering from failures without support or addressing new errors will take additional time as well, which, depending on the importance of the system, could result in lost productivity.
If you are still running Server 2003 in any form, you’re not alone.
Near the end of last year, Microsoft estimated that there are almost 24 million Server 2003 instances still in use in either a physical or virtual form worldwide. That equates to almost 40% of Microsoft’s entire server presence. So, migration off of Server 2003 should be a familiar process to any resources you may enlist to accomplish the move. Microsoft also goes into detail on their website about planning and initiating a move to their newer, currently supported technologies.
Your needs may have certainly changed in the time since your 2003 server was implemented.
New technologies that weren’t available at the time can be leveraged for easier management and migration. Office 365, Server 2012, and virtualization tools like Hyper-V and VMware can help reduce physical footprint and reliance of on premise equipment.
Ideally you have been planning to replace these servers, but if not, now is the time to start to ensure that your company doesn’t suffer adversely from the looming Server 2003 end-of-life deadline. Keeping software and hardware systems up to date not only keeps day to day business running smoothly, but also helps put customer's minds at ease as security breaches occur and software vulnerabilities like Heartbleed gain attention from the public. July 14, 2015 may seem like a long way off, but the planning and execution of a one server transition, let alone multiple servers, takes time and budgeting.