How will you cope with the retirement of Windows 2003?
6th May 2015
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On the 8th April 2003, Microsoft announced it was ending support for Windows XP but following a backlash from users, Microsoft promised to provide a basic level of cyber security protection until July 2015. As the impending deadlines draw closer, IT departments need to take action now before it is too late and your business is exposed to destructive cyber attacks. It is estimated that a third of the world’s PCs are still running Windows XP. For a long time the reliable Windows Server 2003 and Windows Server 2003 R2 OSes were the stalwarts of IT, used on millions of servers worldwide. But now the end is nigh.

Take action:

1.) Are your systems currently operating Windows Server 2003?

Identify if the OS is on your network. This is a relatively easy task if you have a small server environment, however, if there are multiple servers of which to keep track then it is wise to invest in a network inventory tool.

2.) Is it even possible to migrate the systems and what happens if you don’t?

With an existing Windows 2003 system it is essential to determine whether it can be upgraded? Some companies may choose to stay with Windows Server 2003 because their legacy hardware is incompatible with newer applications.

3.) Discover which active roles or applications need to be migrated.

It’s important to check which active roles or applications need to be migrated. This can only be achieved after establishing which Windows 2003 servers are acting as domain controllers or DHCP, file, email, or database servers.

4.) Which migration options are available?

Staying with Microsoft, Microsoft Server 2008, 2008 R2, 2012, and 2012 R2 are all solid options when identifying an OS to migrate to. With a direct upgrade path from Windows Server 2003 R2 to 2008 it enables you to also have 5 more years of extended support (Windows 2008 Server end of life is in January 2020).

Ultimately change is inevitable and it makes sense to install a clean copy of a new operating system like Windows Server 2012 R2 (either on a physical box or virtual machine), then migrate the roles, files, permissions, or applications over to the new server so you can rigorously test the new box before removing the legacy hardware.

By purchasing a brand new server there are the benefits of better performance and a reduced risk of failure, as any physical server running Windows 2003 is likely to be very old. The newer Microsoft server OSes also include virtualisation options in the form of Hyper-V, which enables better use of resources, increase server density and is more long term cost effective.

5.) When should migration begin?

The sooner the better; dependent on how many systems require migrating, the process could take many months. Once Windows Server 2003 end of life date, support and security updates for the OS are gone, they are gone forever so time is of the essence.

It would be foolish to be left with a vulnerable, un-patchable OS so if it’s impossible to upgrade before the deadline then put suitable precautions in place to ensure the upgrade can eventually take place.

6.) Help is available

The retirement of Windows Server 2003 is an illustration of the lifespan of IT investment. Keeping up with the pace of technology creates cost differentiators that sets businesses apart from the competition. Nowadays with technology hardware and software evolutions occurring more rapidly considering the benefits of ‘Infrastructure as a Service’ has never been more timely.

For help and advice please Click Here or call Rockford IT on 01952 426223

About the Author

Mark Luckman

Member since: 10th July 2012

I champion the best businesses in Telford and Wrekin, businesses recommended by you. If you run a local business or know a really great local business that you think deserves to be known by more local...

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