July 14, 2015 is the date that Microsoft will end support for Windows Server 2003 R2. Windows Server 2003 was released over 10 years ago and has been a stable platform for organizations worldwide. So stable in fact, that some organizations have found little motivation to move off of it. Server 2003 is built on the same “bits” that Windows XP was built on. Last year we fought through Microsoft’s end of support notice on Windows XP so we have a little bit of experience to prepare us for July. I’m hoping to remind you what “End of Support” means in Microsoft’s world as well as give you a few things to consider on deciding how and what you might do with servers that remain in your infrastructure that are currently running a version of Windows Server 2003.
Windows Server has been on “extended support” from Microsoft since July 2010 so we’ve all had plenty of notice that the day would come when Microsoft would no longer support it. Let’s assume then that the servers and more importantly the applications running on those servers are still necessary parts of your IT infrastructure. So if you can’t simply turn the servers off and decommission them, what are your options?
Let’s start with what it means for Windows Server 2003 to reach “End of Support/ End of Life” status. It means, no updates, no compliance, and no safe haven.
As hackers continue to attach the operating systems, looking for direct and indirect exploits, Microsoft will stop releasing updates to protect the OS leaving you with a much greater chance of becoming a victim of data theft. Because the OS is no longer supported, the application, server, and your entire infrastructure will no longer be compliant with most important certifying agencies; like PCI, HIPPA, etc. which require that all machines within your environment be running on supported platforms. And finally, there is no safe haven. It doesn’t matter if you move the Server 2003 machine from a physical machine to a virtual machine and try to “hide” it in your infrastructure, it still poses the same risks to your organization.
Once you have decided it’s time to update, what are your options? Thankfully, there are plenty and for the most part they are extremely affordable especially when compared to the old school IT model of purchasing new hardware and software for each application that needs to be upgraded. Regardless of the path you choose, on premises hardware with Windows Server 2012 or Microsoft’s hosted Azure platform, you are going to be taking a huge step forward with your IT infrastructure.
When it comes to the process of migration, there are four basic steps: Discover, Assess, Target, and Migrate.
The discovery process involves cataloging both the software that is running within your organization as well as the versions and operating systems of each machine. There are tools that can help you accomplish this.
The next step is assessment. Categorizing applications and workloads through a number of different parameters.
Targeting the destination involves deciding which platform makes the best “new home” for your old application.
And last but certainly not least, especially in terms of time and energy is the actual migration process. Again, there are options, can you do all the work yourself? Can your team do part of it? Are you better off relying on a partner to complete the majority of the planning and execution?
Microsoft suggests making a chart like the one below that helps keep track of the different factors in the migration process. This can be a real asset when trying to remember how you came to the decision of what you’re migrating, how you’re going to do it and where it’s going to end up.
You can find even more migration resources at Windows Server 2003 Migration. As always, you can reach out to one of the technology specialists at Innovia for more info.