Windows 2003 End of Life = End of the World?

Windows Server 2003 will no longer be supported by Microsoft by the middle of July 2015. So what does this mean to your business? Is it time to have a major panic attack? Will your business systems suddenly stop working and have a melt down on July 15th? What are your options? Let’s try to cut through the media hype and provide some clear understanding to the issue.
First to the facts. The Windows Server 2003 operating system is over 10 years old. That is a long time in the technology field and certainly one of the major considerations for upgrading or replacing your servers still running it. The announcement from Microsoft means that after July 14th they will no longer be issuing any security updates and they will not be providing any technical support or assistance. Simply put, no more Windows Updates. Your W2k3 servers will continue to function just as they did the day before (unforeseen technical issues aside). In fact from a Microsoft (operating system) point of view, your W2k3 servers will henceforth remain exactly as they were as of July 14th.
So what does that mean to your business? Well in the short term, good news – not much! Time now becomes the villain. You see as time passes, new vulnerabilities will surely be uncovered and big daddy Microsoft will not address them for you. Also, it is unlikely that third parties will continue to ensure their software applications and hardware work correctly on an unsupported operating system so you may be unable to update your business applications in the near future on those old W2k3 servers. Maybe you are happy with your current (and presumably stable) W2k3 based system and have neither the need nor the desire to update it. In my opinion as long as this system is properly protected behind a good firewall then I would say you bought yourself some extra time. Focus your attentions on the rest of your W2k3 based systems for now. But you will have to address it eventually!
So what are your options? Well there are plenty which is both good news and bad news. In fact, the best option for one of your systems may not even be the best option for another. There are many factors to consider including: what duties the individual system is currently performing, how critical it is to your business, hardware factors such as performance and capacity, the availability of technical knowledge, and of course cost. Your option may be as “simple” as upgrading your current W2k3 server to Server 2008. You may decide this is a great opportunity to completely replace the existing server with a new one and gain the benefit of newer technology and reduced chance of failure. Instead you may decide to migrate to a virtual environment such as Hyper-V where you can take advantage of better hardware utilization. Or you may choose to move your applications straight to the cloud and virtually eliminate your internal infrastructure.
This is the point at which I recommend you seek some experienced help to review your current situation and help you set out a plan that is best for your business. These decisions will have serious consequences to your business and they are not easily undone.
We at Trent Hills Technical (www.trenthillstechnical.ca), hope that you will consider us when it comes time to address your Windows 2003 servers or for any other of your technical needs. If you have any questions regarding your business technology or any other technical topic, please feel free to contact me, Wayne Matthews at: wmatthews@trenthillstechnical.ca

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