Support has now ended for Windows Server 2003


The Windows Server 2003 server operating system was released by Microsoft on April 24 2003 and immediately gained popularity as it proved more stable and secure than its predecessors. It helped deliver enhanced security and control over networks, whilst allowing businesses to reduce running costs and improve work performance. According to current estimates, there are between up to around 11 million installations of Windows Server 2003 in the market globally – but the end is nigh.

We have reached the end of a Windows product support cycle as extended support for Windows Server 2003 finished in July 2015.

Microsoft issued its first warnings about the end of life for Windows Server 2003 way back in April 2013. Many organisations have not only continued using the server platform, but seem unaware of the risk to which they are exposing their organisation by using a product no longer officially supported by Microsoft.

It still appears that many organisations, of all sizes and complexity, running on Windows Server 2003 are unaware or ignoring the potentially huge financial costs and security problems that might be experienced by not migrating to a newer, supported product.

If you are one of those organisations that have still not migrated, adopting the ‘if it ain’t broke’ approach, it effectively is broke now and you just don’t know it.

It is imperative you make the switch to a supported product and Quiss can help; we have the expertise and experience to help ease you through the process and exploit the new features available through upgrading.

This guide is intended to cover the issue in as much detail as you need, to help you make the right decision and convince those around you that you cannot put off your organisation’s migration any longer.

Windows Server 2003 End of Life date

Microsoft has ended extended support on all versions of Windows Server 2003 and R2. This presents a few potential problems for those of you still not convinced by the need to undertake migration. If you stay put, you will receive no more updates or patches from Microsoft and that will undoubtedly result in the infrastructure your business relies on being less secure and less stable – not good.

For businesses operating in regulated environments, continuing to use Windows Server 2003 after the extended support finishes could put some at risk of non-compliance.

The compelling reasons for upgrading to Microsoft Server 2012 R2 have been made at length, but for those that still need convincing, here are a few reasons to migrate now, before problems arise:

No Updates – Microsoft no longer develops or releases updates to fix bugs, performance issues and security vulnerabilities. This is important because in 2013 Microsoft released 37 critical updates for Windows Server 2003/R2 under the extended support regime. Now, any critical issues will go unresolved and potentially leave your system open to a range of security risks including cyber-attack, malicious attack or data loss.

Increased Costs – Instead of saving money by delaying your migration, you risk increased costs associated with operating aging hardware. And that’s not to mention the extra money you will have to spend on the improved intrusion detection systems, advanced firewalls and network segmentation you will need to isolate your now vulnerable Windows Server 2003 platform. Some estimate the cost to support each server at around £1000.

Compatibility Issues – New software and hardware devices will not be designed with Windows Server 2003 in mind. This is likely to present you with a number of compatibility issues and users across your organisation, may not be able to run new or updated software applications or communicate with the latest devices.

Audit Failure – Now support for Windows Server 2003 & R2 has been withdrawn, any virtualised and physical instances of Windows Server 2003/R2 and Microsoft Small Business Server (SBS) 2003 will not pass a compliance audit.

Whenever support ends on any product that has delivered valuable service for years, there is a tendency for everyone to focus on the negative effects and likely impacts. But migration to Windows

Server 2008 R2 or 2012 R2 offers a range of positives to help get everyone on board, recognising now is the time to get modern.

Before assessing the process of migrating, with a few simple guidelines to help you make the step, you first need to decide whether Windows Server 2008 R2 is enough of a step up or whether you will benefit more from a move to Windows Server 2012 R2, with the additional features it offers over its older stablemate.

Reasons to Upgrade to Windows Server 2008 R2

Windows Server 2008 R2 delivers better control over resources, offering improved energy efficiency, whilst lowering your overhead costs. It will also improve connectivity throughout an organisation with multiple office locations and support new remote access practices. Server management will be more streamlined and increased virtualisation strategies for both client computers and servers will be possible.

This is a brief overview and explaining all the advantages for your organisation in detail, would take a few more pages, or a phone call.

Go all the way with Windows Server 2012 R2

Stepping all the way up to Windows Server 2012 R2 will provide a similar leap in performance over Windows Server 2008 R2 and an almost immeasurable improvement over Windows Server 2003.

For a lot of organisations it’s not a simple choice. Many organisations are delaying the migration because typically an application software package critical to the function of the business is dependent on Windows Server 2003.

Custom applications or modified versions of standard applications, present a real problem for migration as does packaged application software. Often there is no newer version available to run on the later versions of Windows Server and many customers will face application upgrades or new purchases when migrating. 

End of support for Windows Server 2003 is an opportunity for organisations to take a more holistic view of the update. It’s time to consider the entire software environment currently running on Windows Server 2003, rather than just worrying about the operating system migration.

Now is the time to base decisions on the long term return on investment, not just a short-term fix, with a few ‘work-arounds’.

More than just numbers

Migrating to Windows Server 2012 R2 can’t be evaluated just in terms of the numbers, but they are impressive, with physical memory increased to 4TB and memory per virtual machine up from 64GB to 1TB to highlight a couple of significant changes.

Microsoft has proved with Windows Server 2012 R2 that it’s serious about supporting cloud-based deployments of Windows Server, with an improved hypervisor product helping deliver a host of new virtualisation features.

Windows Server 2012 R2 is at the heart of Microsoft’s Cloud solution; providing a unique server and data-centre platform to help organisations cloud-optimise their business.

If you want a more detailed explanation of the improvements Windows Server 2012 R2 will deliver, with plenty of practical examples relevant to your business, please get in touch. 

Ready to migrate from Windows Server 2003?

Firstly, you must not underestimate the planning and preparation involved in migrating applications and server workloads. Despite our experience, it’s not an easy job. Many organisations do not have a plan to migrate, even though support has now ended; if this includes you, then you’re not alone.

Microsoft has created a wealth of material to smooth the migration, with resources to help, built around a four-step process. This involves discovering, assessing and targeting workloads and software, before helping you select the right migration plan.

The four-steps to migration:

Discover – The thing to do is to discover and catalogue all the software applications and workloads that you currently have running on Windows Server 2003 & R2 – Microsoft’s Assessment and Planning Toolkit is a valuable download that can help you with this.

Assess – Next you have to analyse and categorise all your applications and workloads based on their type, how critical they are, their complexity and risk, whilst identifying issues and opportunities.

Target – Now decide where each of your applications and workloads will sit in the new environment. There are a number of suitable destinations for each application or workload, with Cloud solutions available should you wish to exploit the many advantages on offer.

Migrate – Microsoft offers a practical Migration Planning Assistant which walks you through the four steps in detail and official training courses offer a real understanding of the new platform options available to you.

Due to the widespread need to migrate, there is a range of fantastic resources to aid migration, including the Microsoft Virtual Academy – the best collection of free resources from Microsoft experts including videos, slide decks and self-assessments.

Although nothing is likely to have actually stopped working now support has ended, you still have time to get this sorted and save your organisation a lot of potential headaches.

We have the experience, expertise, resources and importantly our own hosting solutions to ensure your migration is completed quickly and efficiently, whilst allowing you to get on with aligning your IT strategy with the business objectives of your organisation.

You still have time to consider all the options available to you, but it makes sense to act as quickly as possible, before you have to make snap decisions because something goes wrong.

And remember, Quiss can help, so get in touch today and cross another critical item off your to-do list..

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