It's Time to Migrate from Windows Server 2003

Follow these tips to ease the transition to a supported operating system.

As many IT managers know, Microsoft will cease support for Windows Server 2003 on July 14. As of that date, the software maker will no longer provide security patches or updates.

To maintain support, state and local governments will need to migrate Windows Server 2003 workloads to Windows Server 2008, 2008 R2 or 2012 R2, or to the cloud. Here are some tips for transitioning off the operating system before its end of life.

Choose a New OS

Migrating to a new server operating system is a major undertaking that requires extensive planning. Start with a destination: Windows Server 2012 R2 or a cloud-based platform offers the best choice, especially because Microsoft will offer only optional extended support for Windows Server 2008 after Jan. 15, 2015.

23.8 million

Estimated number of physical and virtual instances of Windows Server 2003 running worldwide

SOURCE: The Wall Street Journal, September 2014

Assess Hardware

If any Windows Server 2003 workloads are running on physical hardware, make sure those servers are capable of running an updated OS. Consider virtualizing workloads that are running on older hardware.

Verify Application Compatibility

Application compatibility trumps all other concerns. It’s possible some apps won’t work correctly with a new operating system. Research compatibility online, then verify through testing.

Formulate a Contingency Plan

If certain apps aren’t compatible with a new server OS, see if newer versions are available. If that’s not an option, consider competing products. Some may offer the same functionality and be able to import existing data.

If no clear upgrade exists for an aging, incompatible application, evaluate whether the organization really needs it. If it’s deemed critical, IT managers may have no choice but to continue to run it on Windows Server 2003.

Server OS migrations are never quick and easy. They require extensive planning, testing and documentation. As organizations work through these processes, the cardinal rule is to always have a reliable (and fully tested) backup before performing any irreversible operation.

Get help developing a Windows Server 2003 transition plan at cdwg.com/WindowsServer2003.

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Jan 13 2015