IT Support Blog for Small Business Owners

Windows Server 2003 End of Support -- Trouble in Your Server Room

Posted by David Mulvey on Thu, Feb 05, 2015

Windows Server 2003 End of SupportHere at ANP we have been beating the drum for upgrading your old Microsoft Server 2003 Operating Systems since Microsoft announced that Windows XP and Office 2003 were being retired. Microsoft officially ends support for Windows Server 2003 on July 14, 2015. This deadline is much like the Windows XP deadline. Microsoft has stated they will no longer patch Windows Server 2003 for new security vulnerabilities. New vulnerabilities keep cropping up for the aging OS, and Microsoft will not be writing patches for the new vulnerabilities. To put that statement into context, during 2014 Microsoft released 37 critical updates for Windows Server 2003.

You more than likely have a Windows Server 2003 deployed in your server room. Microsoft estimates 39% of all today’s production servers are using the operating system! ANP’s customers were slow to react to removing Windows XP PCs from their networks. Dell, Toshiba, and Apple all saw surges in new OEM machine sales as the deadline came near. I know our IT managers are aware of the situation, and I know they understand the deadline is approaching. But do you have a good sense of how many Windows Server 2003 servers you need to address so you can plan for what you are up against? Do you know if the migration will be complicated or easy? ANP only has a handful of clients that have actually planed for and have begun working on migrating to Windows Server 2012 R2.

If I look back over the Microsoft XP race to remove, the biggest surprise was that most organizations did not fully budget the time and money that would be required for additional IT support. Windows XP PCs (the machine itself) is one thing; we could segment it off the network or simply disconnect its LAN cable. But that strategy is not going to work very well with you Windows Server 2003 machines. So if you are not immediately planning to upgrade your servers, have you considered the extra expense for a new LAN switch to segment off the older servers, or an Intrusion Protection System (IPS), or an advanced Firewall? When I consider the cost and effort to implement these systems, wouldn’t it be less expensive and frankly less work to just bite the bullet and migrate away from Windows Server 2003?

I see Windows Server 2003 deployed in my small clients and also heavily deployed in my larger clients. ANP has a client with over 100 virtual instances of Windows Server 2003 still in production! Yikes, that’s a lot of OS to buy and migrate! The kinds of things that are delaying larger IT shops is the application software running on top of the server OS. Many Independent Software Vendors (ISV) have gone out of business that had provided Line-of-Business specific software to business units. It has been inexpensive to run that old software and now it’s becoming problematic. If it needs to be replaced (and it does) then the IT department needs to involve the business unit running the software to begin a search to replace it, not to mention, the time to migrate off of the old app and onto a new LOB application. You can see how the Windows Server 2003 End-of-Support can set off sequentially falling dominos of unplanned IT support costs and delays.

I have shared with you before the first step is to deploy MAP and assess what your Windows Server 2003 workloads look like and then determine in order of priority what needs to upgraded. So you will discover, analyze and finally migrate. In larger businesses the majority is moving from virtual 2003 instances to virtual 2012 instances or they are doing a conventional physical-to-virtual upgrade. Once your workloads are virtualized, and then you can start to think about movement off-site to a CoLo or Service Provider like ANP. Many workloads are better suited to run over Windows Server 2008 to maintain support for the older 32-bit applications that were once running on Windows Server 2003. By moving the old LOB application off of Server 2003 you can buy yourself some time migrating it to Server 2008.

Ideally though, you will be moving all 64-bit application workloads up to Server 2012 R2. By making that jump over Server 2008, you can take the whole server stack and virtualize it. Instead of one physical server for one 2003 OS, you can move to four or eight applications on a single 2012 OS. So you are getting a better bang for your buck! You are really skinning two cats at once: you are virtualizing physical servers, saving electricity, cooling and space and you are also migrating away from Server 2003 to a much more robust and modern Server 2012 operating system and you are doing both of these in tandem!

ANP has been doing Server 2003 assessments for half a year, and we are getting busier. If you need help, ANP will do your MAP assessment for free and provide you with a written report with recommendations. Or you can download MAP HERE and run the assessment yourself. So if you haven’t started, you are not too far behind. Almost everyone is on the assessment and analyze stages. We have some proactive clients that are actually in the midst of their physical to virtual migrations. You have 5 more months to get this work done. Please call ANP (800) 572-3282 if you think you need some help! Or sign up for the free ANP MAP assessment HERE 


Windows Server 2003 Survival Assessment

Topics: Windows Server 2003, Windows Server 2003 End Of Life, Windows Server 2003 End Of Support

How to Make the Microsoft Windows Server 2003 End-of-Support Easy.

Posted by David S. Mulvey on Tue, Jan 13, 2015

Windows Server 2003 EOSMicrosoft has announced the official end of extended support for Windows Server 2003.  Microsoft believes there are over nine million instances of Windows Server 2003 in production today in North America!  The deadline for End-Of-Support (EOS) is July 14, 2015 and I suspect Microsoft will not move that date because they didn’t extend the Microsoft XP EOS date.  Essentially on July 14, 2015 Microsoft will stop patching the Windows Server 2003 operating system and they will no longer issue security updates. What should an IT Manager do? Hackers all over the world will be focusing on attacking an unprotected operating system. Needless to say, IT managers must get all of your Windows Server 2003 instances discovered, documented and migrated.

In addition to upgrading the server operating system, many companies also have their Windows Domain running under Windows Server 2003, so a Domain migration is thrown into the mix.  Plus many companies have taken the plunge into Virtualization and are using Hyper V or VMware with Server 2003.  So many older Windows Server 2003 instances need to be upgraded and virtualized.  Almost everyone is migrating to the current Server Operating System Windows Server 2012 R2.  So what’s the best way to go about assessing your IT server environment?

Microsoft to the rescue: Microsoft has written a free downloadable piece of code to assist an IT manager with all aspects of a Windows Server 2003 migration.  The Microsoft assessment tool is called the Microsoft Assessment and Planning Toolkit or (MAP). You can download a free MAP COPY HERE. The MAP toolkit makes it easy to assess your IT infrastructure in order to migrate away from Windows Server 2003.  You will receive an inventory of hardware, software and a migration plan.

The Microsoft Assessment and Planning Toolkit is an agentless, automated, multi-product planning and assessment tool for server migrations.  MAP provides detailed readiness assessment reports and executive proposals with extensive hardware and software information, and actionable recommendations to help in the IT infrastructure planning process. MAP also provides server utilization data for Hyper-V server virtualization planning identifying server placements, and performing virtualization candidate assessments.

If you subscribe to Microsoft TechNet (and you should be) you can also find great MAP RESOURCES HERE.  Microsoft has documented a 4-step migration process:

  1. Discover: The first step is to discover and catalog all of the software and workloads running on Windows Server 2003/R2. There are several self-service tools that can help with this process, such as the Microsoft Assessment and Planning (MAP)
  2. Assess: Once you have a catalog, you will need to assess what’s in it. This means categorizing and analyzing your cataloged applications and workloads based on type, criticality, complexity, and risk.
  3. Target: Choose a migration destination for each application and workload. Available options include Windows Server 2012 R2, Windows Azure, Cloud OS Network, and Office 365.
  4. Migrate: Choosing the right migration plan may require some additional analysis and assistance. Several vendors offer do-it-yourself tools to assist in the decision-making process and in the migration itself, including Cisco and Dell.

Microsoft Windows Server 2003 has been an extremely stable and reliable server operating system; ANP has been using the product for over ten years. Its always sad to say good bye to a great friend, but I can share, that if you haven’t worked with the new Windows Server 2012 R2, you will be amazed with some of the slick new features!

Feel free to download and play around with the new Microsoft MAP toolkit.  If you are too busy and would like the help of an expert, ANP is offering a free Windows Server 2003 Survival Assessment.  Please CHECK HERE TO REGISTER

Windows Server 2003 Survival Assessment

Topics: Windows Server 2003, Windows Server 2003 End Of Life, Windows Server 2003 End Of Support, Windows Server 2003 EOS, ANP Survival Assessment kit

You’re Running Out of Time! Windows Server 2003 End of Support

Posted by David Mulvey on Fri, Jan 09, 2015

Time Is Running OutOn July 14, 2015, Microsoft is officially retiring Windows Server 2003. As Windows Server 2003 comes to the end of its life, businesses all around the world will feel the effects. Microsoft recently estimated there are 24 million instances of Windows Server 2003 running on 12 million physical servers! There are an estimated 9.4 million Windows Servers 2003 instances running in North America. Worldwide Windows Server 2003 accounts for 39 percent of all Windows Servers. As you can see, the installed base is massive, making migrations an important security issue for the entire IT industry.

With Windows Server 2003's retirement party seven months away, and Microsoft’s estimation that a typical Windows Server planned migration can take as much as 200 days, its time to plan your next steps! I am writing this blog to make certain my readers are well aware that you need to be proactive when it comes to removing Windows Server 2003 from your company servers. Microsoft isn't the only company ditching Windows Server 2003. Not only will Microsoft wash its hands of Windows Server 2003 support, so will all the custom software and Line-of-Business application companies that once supported Windows Server 2003.

Assuming those software companies stopped actively developing for the 2003 Operating System years ago; they are likely still supporting the applications that run on it. After Windows Server 2003 end of life on July 14, 2015, they'll have no reason to continue to support that version of their software. The implications of this reality run far and wide. Your Line-of-business software is surely affected, as are any other random software applications you are using.

Honestly, when was the last time you called any support company regarding Windows Server 2003? It’s not that you will no longer be able to call and get technical support from Microsoft that really matters. What really is cause for concern is that Microsoft and security software vendors will likely stop patching, updating and supporting their software. And conversely all the hackers in the world can’t wait to attack the soon-to-be vulnerable server operating system!

Let me be clear -- I love Windows Server 2003; we have been running the reliable server operating system here at ANP for 10 years. Still, it's now past the time to put Windows Server 2003 out to pasture. The bottom line is that running Windows Server 2003 in your organization is an outright liability, bordering on irresponsible; you must insure that any virus cannot attack your servers and that means you need to stop running Windows Server 2003 operating system by July 14th.

With any business risk comes opportunity and the same holds true for Windows Server 2003. This is a great opportunity for you, as a business owner, to assess if you need to keep running physical servers at your office, should you move to the Cloud, or should you virtualize your applications into a redundant server cluster? ANP has created a limited time free Windows 2003 Survival Assessment Kit to help you inventory the risk, and assess what is the best path for your company and your applications to take.  The bottom line is that you're running out of both time and options when it comes to removing Windows Server 2003 from your company. But, whatever you do, make sure that Windows Server 2003 is off your network by July 14, 2015.

Get Started Right Now: If you would like to learn more about what your next steps as a business owner should be sign up for my 30-minute educational webinar below where I will describe the risk in detail and lay out the most common upgrade/migration paths for a small business owner. Or sign up for our Windows Server 2003 Survival Kit and begin to actively assess your server exposure.

Windows Server 2003 Survival Assessment

Topics: Windows Server 2003, Windows Server 2003 End Of Life, Windows Server 2003 End Of Support

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