By Sarah Morgan
Just like Windows XP before it, Windows Server 2003 now too faces its end of life. On July 14th 2015, Microsoft will be ending extended support for all versions of Windows Server 2003/R2.
But despite constant warning from Microsoft, many organisations have yet to even begin their
migration. These businesses will continue running the outdated software at their peril: huge financial costs and security risks are estimated for those running Windows Server 2003 past end of life.
11 million systems are still running Windows Server 2003, HP estimates. Clearly, many view it as an issue for next year. This could be a crippling problem when considering the estimated time for migrating a datacentre of 100+ servers can take from 3 to 18 months.
If you’re amongst that 11 million, now is the time to begin planning your migration. Here’s a birds-eye view of your migration process.
What does end of support mean for Windows Server 2003?
As of July 14th 2015, Microsoft will no longer be providing patches and security updates for this now 10-year-old software. You can expect the following:
Once end of life hits you’ll be on your own. Don’t expect any more updates, bug fixes or patches of any size.
Software like this needs continual work and even after 10 years, Microsoft are still working on critical updates for Windows Server 2003. In fact, 2013 saw Microsoft complete 37 of these critical updates.
Without the maternal care of Microsoft, critical issues and bugs affecting Windows Server 2003 will stay unfixed. You’ll be left open to cybersecurity vulnerabilities and will be more at risk of malicious attacks and data breaches.
Your business will almost certainly fail to meet your existing compliance standards. HIPAA, PCI, SOX & Dodd-Frank require regulated industries to use supported platforms. Once end of life hits, Windows Server 2003 will lose its status as a supported platform and your business will lose out as a result.
In particular, adherence to PCI is required for businesses that want to host Visa and MasterCard transactions on their websites. Lose it and your crippling your businesses ability to make money online. For other standards, lack of compliance could result in high transaction fees and penalties which in itself could massively increase your costs.
Running legacy software is inevitably going to be expensive. Without Microsoft’s support, you’ll have to implement your own intrusion detection systems, advanced firewalls and network segmentation.
A TechNet post from Alex Fu cites a hefty £120,000 a year cost for custom support. Plus, practice director of Microsoft Solutions, David Mayer, estimates the price tag to be £900 per server, per year.
Without Microsoft’s support, new software and hardware products will not be built to be compatible with Windows Server 2003. You’ll likely run into compatibility issues from the outset and as time passes, these issues will only grow in scale.
How to migrate your Windows Server 2003
Migrating is hard work and takes time. However, Microsoft is on-hand to deliver resources to ease the passing of Windows Server 2003. Take a look at Microsoft’s Endof Service section before you plan your migration.
Microsoft’s recommended four step migration process is as follows:
Your first step is to determine which applications and workloads are running on your Windows Server 2003. Download the Microsoft Assessment and Planning Toolkit to help assess your current infrastructure and migration project.
Next, categorise your applications and workloads by their type, importance and degree of complexity. During this process you should be keeping a look out for migration issues.
Choose a migration destination for each application and workload in your data centre or in the cloud. Microsoft are clearly focusing on cloud technology. Their public cloud solution, Azure, currently comes with a one month freetrial – now’s the time to migrate to the cloud.
Microsoft also offer destination for each application or workload, including:
- Windows Server 2012 R2
- System Center 2012 R2 (Private Cloud)
- Microsoft Azure (Public Cloud)
- SQL Server 2014
- Office 365
Choose a migration plan and get going. Microsoft do provide a quality Migration Planning Assistant which covers in-depth the previous 4 steps. If that’s not enough, you can attend official training courses, from training providers like Firebrand, designed to teach you everything you need to know about the platform you are migrating to.
Migration resources to get started with
Microsoft Virtual Academy – curated and built by Microsoft, these well-made guides can be an invaluable source of knowledge.
We recommend studying:
- Windows Server 2003 End of Support Migration Overview
- Migrating to Windows Server 2012 Training
- Windows Azure for IT Pros Jump Start
Windows Server 2003 End of Life: Infrastructure Migration – this Channel 9 video (1 hour, 17 minutes) digs into the process of migrating your infrastructure. The demo-intensive session explores workload migration and foundation services like DHCP, DNS and File/Print.
Windows Server 2003 End of Life Migration: Planning for Your Workloads – watch this Channel 9 video (1 hour 8 minutes) for an organised and systematic view of migration strategies and destinations.
Migration Deployment Toolkit – this collection of processes, tools and guidance for automating desktop and server deployments may prove invaluable during your migration.
Time is certainly running out for the 11 million who haven’t yet migrated. This isn’t a problem for next year and if you treat it like that, you'll certainly regret it.
About the Author:
Sarah writes for Firebrand Training on a number of IT related topics. This includes exams, training, certification trends, project management, certification, careers advice and the industry itself. Sarah has 11 years of experience in the IT industry.