Support for Windows 2003 ends on July 14, 2015. As you likely know, from here, Microsoft will no longer be providing support or security updates for Windows Server 2003. Whilst it may not seem urgent, as Server 2003 will obviously keep working – it's important not to be lulled into a false sense of security if you haven’t already started your migration. Here's why...

Increased risk

There will be an increased risk of security issues as the exploits for Server 2003 will be easy to develop. It’s highly likely that every time Microsoft releases a patch for any of the newer versions of Windows the malware developers will test the vulnerability against older versions and create new exploits for it. As Microsoft often adds to existing technology, a lot of those vulnerabilities will work on older versions. However, as Microsoft will no longer provide patches for Windows Server 2003, or advise if the vulnerability applies, operating your system without security patches may result in extra work or having to pay for emergency support.

Weigh up the cost of maintaining security v’s migrating

While it’s entirely possible to defend an out-of-support operating system – if you do it properly you’re likely to spend more defending the operating system than the cost of a new licence. Basically, there’s no realistic way to save money or time by not upgrading your server and still remain secure.

Perhaps it’s in the ‘Too Hard Basket’ for a reason?

The biggest problem is often the complexity and importance of the system in the organisation. These systems have probably been reliably running in the business for some time and are often bound up with everything. Email servers, web hosting or file serving have likely already been migrated, leaving the harder stuff like ordering, logistics, supply or manufacturing. Then, perhaps, there are integrated applications – so you can’t easily move one part without affecting other processes too. So, the very reason that migration may have been delayed due to complexity, is the very reason it needs to be addressed, as business critical processes may be affected if there is a breach in security.

Getting budget for IT, so close after XP

Some IT departments are also struggling to gain approval for the budget required to finance the change. Another upgrade, just over a year after Windows XP on systems that are out of sight from most of the business makes the task more difficult and perhaps a little more time consuming to get it across the line.

While none of these difficulties should scare you into an immediate upgrade – they should definitely encourage the commencement of a migration plan. Plus, with all the advancements in technology since the introduction of Windows Server 2003 and the apps these servers generally manage, your plan may also serve as the basis of a compelling business case to bring about other improvements and innovations for the organisation as a whole.

So, it's worth starting your migration plan now!

Audit: The first step is to ascertain the numbers of servers and exactly which applications you’re running – how many, what type, their function, complexity and criticality. Many organisations underestimate the number of apps they have running on their servers, often due to years of updates as users and IT staff leave or they simply haven’t required attention.

Prioritise: Once you’ve identified what you have, the next step is to assess what can and should move – and to which environment. Is it best to migrate to an existing server, virtualise, buy new hardware, the cloud or a combination?

Timeline: With a clear plan the task is less daunting. Consider planning and migration time, your organisations long-term IT strategy, budget, criticality and your overall appetite for risk. Many of the changes can fit into your overall plan or existing systems to reduce costs and disruption to the business. While much of this can be achieved in-house we’re available if you require some assistance or are struggling to find the time..

Ultimately, when executed well, it's more cost effective to replace than to try and secure.

Oriel is a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner, so if you need an extra hand planning, or need further information on prices and options, please contact your Oriel Account Manager or email the Oriel Sales team or give us a ring on 02 9461 0100.