Here 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.