29 Jan 2015

Windows Server 2003 is reaching end of life; what you need to know

Suffering the same fate as Windows XP, Windows Server 2003 will be end of life in July 2015. This should not come as a surprise, as Microsoft recommended customers commence planning for migration to new versions in 2013. Despite this warning there are over 10 million Windows Server 2003 systems in operation. Given the migration effort and inherent complexities resulting in missing this timeframe, many of these systems will expose their critical data assets or companies are going to be forced to pay for custom support.

What does end of life mean?

If the decision is made not to migrate from Windows Server 2003 prior to end of life, technology challenges will include:

  • No updates. Microsoft will halt freely supplying patches to address bugs. It will not be long before hackers and the like identify and exploit newly discovered errors and loopholes in Windows Server 2003 code.
  • Maintenance cost blowout – Legacy systems introduce increased maintenance cost and do not realise efficiencies in newer versions. Third party application support often ceases soon after end of life, further increasing maintenance costs and risk. Estimates are that it will cost $1500 per server per year to maintain Windows Server 2003 systems.
  • Noncompliance – Operating Windows Server 2003 instances will expose your organisation to non -compliance from a HIPAA, SOX and PCI perspective, as all mandate that your datacentre run on supported platforms.

A three step primer to migration

Brennan IT recommends the following three stage migration approach:

1)      Discovery

Identifying all instances of Windows Server 2003 operating in the environment through an audit.

2)      Assessment

Categorising identified instances and applications being served based on type, complexity and risk factors.

3)      End State Platform

Based on the above assessment, determining the end state platform such as Windows Server 2012, Microsoft Azure, SQL Server 2014 and Office 365 and the application and data migration approach.

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