One of the biggest challenges to face IT managers and administrators this year is end of support for Windows Server 2003. Although most users have migrated to Server 2008 R2 or the newest version, 2012 R2; some organizations that have waited can expect to feel real world impacts as a result of remaining on 2003. Delayed action in developing and executing an effective strategy to migrate off this platform can exacerbate the effects of remaining on an obsolete software as dwindling Microsoft resources for support and assistance will continue to shrink until ultimately being turned off on July 14, 2015.
The process of winding down Windows Server 2003 began with the termination of mainstream support on July 13, 2010. Although most customers were not severely impacted by this, the platform has been in the extended support phase for the last 5 years as Microsoft has devoted more resources to developing, supporting, and improving its newer iterations of Windows Server – first 2008, and now the most recent, 2012 R2. During the current extended support phase, Microsoft has offered limited assistance to users in the form of security updates, use of the Microsoft Knowledge Base, and paid per-incident support. It eliminated free incident support, non-security hotfix support, and ceased offering design changes and feature requests in 2010. Once the extended support phase ends on July 14, 2015, users can expect to be faced with:
- Lack of patches, updates, and non-security fixes
- Elimination of security fixes
- Lack of Support
- Compliance Issues
- Inability to leverage current cloud options from Microsoft and other vendors
Although faced with an obstacle by this obsolescence, users can find golden opportunities to make dramatic steps in reorganizing and simplifying their server and application architecture. With Windows Server 2008 Microsoft introduced Hyper-V, its hypervisor technology. Improved upon with the 2008 R2 update, Hyper-V was updated even further within Windows Server 2012, bringing it on par with competitors such as VMware’s ESX offering.
This greatly improved option for virtualization, included with every Server 2012 license gives administrators a powerful tool to reduce the number of physical hosts in their environment without needing to invest in additional software. It also offers improved integration with Microsoft’s Azure platform, allowing users the ability to leverage Microsoft’s cloud for backup, disaster recovery, and surge usage. Updated Hyper-V capabilities in 2012 allow users to use a virtual machine as a domain controller for the first time, and included mechanisms to inhibit a virtual domain controller from being rolled back to an earlier VM snapshot, preserving its consistency. With the improved Hyper-V Replica, users can fully take advantage of Azure’s Site Recovery (IaaS), creating a cloud based recovery environment. Hyper-V Extensible Switch lets users connect VMs to a physical network, allowing more flexibility in VM deployment.
In order to empower users in the migration process, Microsoft has made funding and other resources available to assist with developing and executing a migration strategy. Immediate funding is available for organizations to undergo a cloud assessment to determine the requirements to migrate their environment to Windows Server 2012 R2, Azure, or a hybrid on-premise/hosted solution. Microsoft Gold Partner PEI is available to assist you with this process. Contact us today to discuss having an assessment done. Don’t get caught on an outdated, unsupportable platform, contact PEI today and learn how you can stay current.