The big day is getting closer; Microsoft will shut down support for the incredibly popular Windows Server 2003 on July 14 and if you’re still using that solution for a host of support, productivity and security reasons, you’ll want to be off it by then.

There have been positive signs that migration away from Windows Server 2003 has been a priority for most organisations. Already, 15 per cent of organisations that were recently using it have completed the migration to a new server and are not facing an immediate end of life date. A further 48 per cent have partly migrated away and of the 28 per cent still in the planning stages of migration, 76 per cent are confident that the migration would be completed by the time Windows Server 2003 hit the July 14 cut off.

The bulk of organisations making the migration are moving to other Windows servers, with just nine per cent announcing the intention to switch to Linux. As expected, the most recent solution from Microsoft, Windows Server 2012 R2, is the most popular choice among organisations with 64 per cent choosing to move to this new server.

But what if your organisation hasn’t yet started the migration to a new server? With only a couple of months remaining to the July 14 deadline, the good news is that for most organisations, migration away from Windows Server 2003 can still be achieved in time. The majority (76%) of organisations that have already made the migration did so in three months or less.

There are other benefits in making the migration, with many organisations using the switch as an opportunity to do major updates. For example, 74% of organisations are moving apps to virtualized servers and 12% are taking the opportunity to move some (or all) applications to Cloud or hosted solutions. While Windows Server 2003 was an effective and popular server for many years, the reality is that it’s an out-dated product from an era before Cloud and virtualization. Organisations that are making the move are finding new doors open to them, allowing them to leverage modern technology innovation towards obtaining competitive advantages.

This move is very similar to what many organisations faced when Windows XP hit its end of life last year. By being forced to migrate to a modern solution, organisations also found that it was much easier for them to adopt additional technologies to improve the work their IT infrastructure was doing for them.

Unfortunately, even with careful planning not every migration is a smooth one. Some organisations are encountering challenges as they migrate, with one of the biggest being how to move certain applications away from Windows Server 2003. Custom applications particularly may not work on newer server platforms, and working out how to resolve that challenge can greatly impact the time and cost of migration.

While there is a relatively small number of organisations that aren’t planning to migrate at all, of those there is a high proportion that don’t believe there are any issues with the current system (either ignoring or unaware of the security and technology risks), or believing they lack the time to make the switch.

The good news for all organisations is that Microsoft bringing Windows Server 2003 to its end of life is a blessing in disguise. Yes, it’s forcing some organisations to take actions they might not have otherwise done in order to preserve the integrity of their infrastructure, but in doing so they are investing in a future-ready platform enabling far greater freedom and innovation in the long term. For those organisations that feel they’re under-resourced or lack the time to make the migration themselves, now would be the ideal time to consider bringing in some outside support to ensure minimal disruption or risk to the organisation once Microsoft flicks the switch.

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