For customers still using Windows Server 2003, now is the time to migrate

It’s hard to believe it has been 12 years since we released Windows Server 2003. Back in 2003, Windows Server 2003 was the first server operating system launched after the Trustworthy Computing Initiative was announced and it introduced server roles. It had a recommended minimum processor speed of 550 MHz, and up to 4GB of RAM supported in the 32-bit version, taking advantage of the new hardware that was then becoming available. And it was well received, reaching levels of adoption that were at the time unprecedented for our server business. I want to thank our customers for partnering with Microsoft and choosing Windows Server 2003 for their needs.

It’s been said that all endings are really beginnings, and technology is no exception. As the speed of technology innovation increases, the more our products needs to evolve to keep pace. To put this in perspective, back in 2003, smartphones and mobile applications were marginally adopted. Today, they are prolific and driving real-time business on the go. Now, my current mobile phone exceeds the original Windows Server 2003 memory and processor requirements! If you put the standards of 2003 next to the scale and scope of applications today, there just isn’t any comparison.

Windows Server 2003 reaches end of support in less than 6 months. But we believe the end is an exciting new beginning for our customers. Many customers, from large enterprises such as Aston Martin, to smaller businesses such as Karen M. Hazleton, CPA have already upgraded to newer versions of Windows Server or Microsoft Azure. These customers are seeing real benefits, including improved performance, higher reliability, and increased flexibility in responding to business needs. If you are still running Windows Server 2003, I want to remind you that now is the time to migrate. Support for Windows Server 2003 will end on July 14, 2015.

A good migration strategy should include several key elements. You need to identify any remaining instances of Windows Server 2003, analyze which workloads are running on those instances, and choose the right migration path. Windows Server 2012 R2, Microsoft Azure, and Office 365 are all great options for migration, depending on your specific requirements.

Windows Server 2003 instances will, of course, continue to run after end of support. However, running unsupported software carries significant security risks and may result in costly compliance violations. As you evaluate security risks, keep in mind that even a single unpatched server can be a point of vulnerability for your entire infrastructure. You can read more about Gartner’s perspective on security risks here.

Important financial and healthcare regulations also include provisions around security: US PCI DSS section 6.1 states that all organizations must “ensure that all system components and software are protected from known vulnerabilities by having the latest vendor-supplied security patches installed,” while HIPAA section 164.308(a)(1)(ii)(B) states that covered entities must “implement security measures sufficient to reduce risks and vulnerabilities to a reasonable appropriate level.” Industry regulations are often country specific, so you should consult your legal, security and audit teams to ensure you understand your compliance landscape.

Upgrading servers is not just a maintenance task. It provides an opportunity to deliver significant business value. Business users expect mobile connected applications that were barely on the horizon with Windows Server 2003. Additionally, technology capabilities have also evolved dramatically in the last decade, with the emergence of cloud and new standards for manageability and security. Migration options include:

  • Consolidate physical servers or paid virtualization platforms to Hyper-V and save money.
  • Migrate workloads like Exchange to Office 365 to get the latest productivity innovations and reduce your management burden.
  • Upgrade from SQL Server 2005 to SQL Server 2014 to achieve mission-critical performance and faster insights on any data.
  • Migrate Web applications to Microsoft Azure or our Cloud OS Network, for the improved reach, scale and cost efficiency.
  • Update custom or line of business applications to support the needs of today’s globally connected mobile workforce.

If you have questions, or need help, Microsoft, our hardware partners and our system integration partners are ready to get you on the latest technology. To find out more visit our website.