May 29 2015

Windows Server 2003 Migration Looms: Is Your Government Ready?

Organizations that stay on the operating system face a host of IT challenges.

Microsoft will end support for Windows Server 2003 on July 14.

Experts estimate that 23.8 million total instances of the operating system are running on both physical and virtual servers. Those that fail to migrate in time invite a host of IT challenges that affect security, compatibility and compliance.

Despite the challenges, the retirement of Windows Server 2003 presents a unique opportunity for IT teams to migrate to a more efficient and capable server infrastructure. The current version of Windows Server, Windows Server 2012 R2, represents a significant step up in robustness, performance and functionality, and provides native support for transformative technologies such as virtualization. Further, the Windows Server 2003 retirement cycle is the first end-of-support (EOS) event for a Microsoft server OS that can be addressed by cloud services and infrastructure.

With the deadline rapidly approaching, organizations must take urgent action to get migration efforts underway.

Industry studies show that the average server OS migration takes about 200 days to complete, with larger migrations requiring longer time frames. The risk and cost posed by passing the deadline is significant. Enterprises that continue to run Windows Server 2003 past the retirement date will face many issues.

No more software updates

Microsoft will cease producing software updates, patches and bug fixes for Windows Server 2003 after the deadline. Last year, Microsoft released 37 critical updates for the OS. Over time, servers running Windows Server 2003 will be increasingly vulnerable to attack and exploitation. End of customer support: Technical support activities for Windows Server 2003 also will end. Enterprises that opt to purchase custom support from Microsoft can expect to pay dearly for the service. AppZero, a provider of migration tools, estimates average costs at $200,000 for the first year of operation, then increasing sharply each year thereafter.

Third-party software questions

Organizations may find that third-party apps and services will no longer be supported.

Compliance issues

IT shops subject to regulations, such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act and the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard, may risk falling into noncompliance. This can be a serious issue for many organizations.

Even as the deadline approaches, many enterprises have yet to take action. A 2013 survey by AppZero found that more than half of organizations had 100 or more active Windows Server 2003 servers, and only one quarter had a plan in place to migrate their systems. Regardless, with the deadline looming, the message is clear: Now is the time to move.

For more on Windows Server 2003 migration, read CDW’s White Paper “Windows Server 2003 EOS: Time for an I.T. Transformation.”


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