Get Ready for the End of Your (Business) World

Windows Server 2003 Deadline Nears
Nearly a year ago Microsoft Windows XP support came to an end. Now, we are rapidly approaching Windows Server 2003, aka SBS 2003, end of life.

Are you ready? If you aren’t, what will you do when you wake up the morning of July 15, 2015 … the day after the end of your business world as you know it today? Despite Microsoft warning about end of life for Windows Server 2003 as early as two years before now, many small to medium-sized businesses have yet to begin their migration away from the server platform to a Windows server alternative. Worse yet, many of you are largely unaware of the huge financial costs and security risks if you continue running Windows Server 2003 past the end of life date.

Again, that date is July 14, 2015, when Microsoft will end extended support on all versions of Windows Server 2003/R2, according to the Microsoft Support Lifecycle section. Mark your calendar; set your alarm.

No Doubt, It’s a Big Problem Brewing
Reports from Hewlett-Packard estimate that more than 11-million systems are still running Windows Server 2003. With just a few months left until end of life, this a burgeoning challenge as the approximate time required to migrate a data center of 100 or more servers can range from a minimum of 90 days to upwards of 18 months.

If you own even one of those 11-million servers, and you have yet to begin migration, you likely should look worried. Lucky for you, the following will guide you to a potential position of safety. We will cover:

  • How end of support for Windows Server 2003 can impact your business
  • What the benefits are for changing
  • What you should do next

Understanding What End of Support Means
After July 14, this means no more updates or patches from Microsoft. That can result in a less secure and less stable infrastructure for your business. What this really means is:

  • Maintenance Costs| Running servers can be expensive. Intrusion detection systems, advanced firewalls and network segmentation are required to protect a now vulnerable Windows Server 2003 platform. You will also have increasing cost from maintaining aging hardware. Current estimates in a TechNet post from Alex Fu place the estimated cost of custom support post-end-of-life at $200,000 … on average. In a recent Q&A with David Mayer, practice director of Microsoft Solutions for Insight Enterprises, he projected a support cost of $1,500 per server per year. Yikes on both counts!


  • No Updates | There will be no more updates to fix bugs, performance issues and security vulnerabilities. To put this into perspective, 2013 saw the release of 37 critical updates for Windows Server 2003. Past the end-of-life date, these critical issues will remain unfixed. That leaves you open to cybersecurity dangers, such as malicious attacks or electronic data loss.


  • No Compliance |Once support ends, your business will almost certainly fail to meet industry-wide compliance standards. Regulations such as HIPAA, PCI, SOX and Dodd-Frank all require regulated industries to run on supported platforms. The impact is twofold: Non-compliance could result in the loss of business, while high transaction fees and penalties from non-compliance could dramatically increase the cost of doing business.


  • Software & Hardware Compatibility Issues | New software applications and hardware devices won’t be built to integrate with Windows Server 2003. Sticking with a legacy server means you will likely run into compatibility issues. It may not be able to run new instances of software or communicate with the latest devices.


  • No Safe Haven | Without continued support from Microsoft, virtualized and physical instances of Windows Server 2003 and Microsoft Small Business Server (SBS) 2003 will not pass a compliance audit. Oh, my.

Do not underestimate the task that lies ahead. Migrating applications and server workloads is no easy task. Disturbingly, a study by App Zero suggests that 62% of businesses that should have a plan to upgrade or migrate don’t. Some still don’t even know that EOS is already darkening the horizon.

What are the Benefits of Changing?
But, with the right IT consultant and project management expert in place, businesses of all sizes can take advantage of this migration. It’s a chance to move forward with perhaps a fresher version of Windows. Also modernize and power up for the next generation of business technology innovations.
Some of the advantages to your business are:

  • Avoiding rising, ongoing customized support costs by migrating to Windows Server 2012 or other cloud business services
  • Enhancing your business systems with new security features, such as BitLocker
  • Interfacing with a new, productive OS similar to Windows 8
  • Adopting new Hyper V virtualization tech allowing multiple OSes to run on a single platform
  • Improving overall substantial performance, management, scalability and availability

What Should You Do?
First step … plan for the future. Quantify and identify the servers that are running Windows Server 2003 & SBS 2003. Then ask yourself: How important are these systems? Are they running important business applications and will they remain compliant?

Then, regularly secure the data on these systems in case of failure. Make plans and set aside time to replace these systems with the latest Microsoft Server operating systems or other cloud business services. That way you’re also considering the advantages of on-premise or cloud-based solutions.

Finally, simply contact us for more information and a free consultation. Let us help your business survive with this important upgrade and avoid the end of your world!

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