Now is the Time to Move to Cloud Servers

Business MobilityVirtual infrastructure is revolutionising IT. The days of the old, dusty data centre are fast becoming old fashioned, and new software-based alternatives are creeping in. For small and medium sized businesses, virtualisation presents enormous benefits, including a reduction in cost, and fewer support and maintenance tasks for the team. Virtual infrastructure is greener, more flexible and less demanding on your staff.

Virtual servers are the corner stone of any software-based data centre, and if your business is still running old physical servers, the time is right to take the first steps towards the cloud. Not only are servers very cost effective, but there’s a good chance some of your oldest machines are ripe for replacement.

Out with the old

In less than three months, Windows Server 2003 will become an unsupported operating system. For the millions of businesses still using it, that will be a costly blow, and many have tried to put their head in the sand and ride out the last few months. However, once July comes, all bets are off. The longer Windows Server 2003 is left unsupported, the more damage hackers could potentially do.

Many businesses keep their old servers running for fear of upsetting the status quo. Often, servers run highly specialised applications that are business critical, and the business sees that as good enough reason to leave the old server well alone. Face it. You don’t need a Chief Data Officer to realise that a business critical database or key application should not be running on server software that has no manufacturer support. Come July, that’s what many organisations will be doing.

Safe migrations

Thousands of businesses have already completed successful cloud migrations, and a big part of the process is having the right cloud servers in place. Virtualisation lets businesses achieve maximum efficiency because hosted services are elastic; they scale up and down automatically, based on business demand.

Compatibility concerns are understandable, so planning is key. With the End of Life phase so near, businesses should refrain from entering panic mode and migrating too quickly, or without the right strategy in place. Working with a provider like Cloud4, they should start pre-work now in order to get valuable data off Windows Server 2003 and into a secure cloud environment, either before 14th July, or as soon as possible afterwards.

No time to lose

Some businesses are still searching for a good reason to move to virtual servers. The demise of Windows Server 2003 is the best catalyst we can think of. While moving legacy applications is certainly a daunting step, there are very good reasons to quit procrastinating and choose a cloud provider that can help. And running an on-premise/ cloud hybrid solution is better than putting your entire data centre at risk.

While a move to the cloud is a huge endeavour, and not without challenges, leaving data on unsupported servers is not a sensible way forward. End of Life is weeks away now. OK, it’s late to act, but it’s not too late to do something about it.

Could Your Server Bring Down Your Data Centre?

Businesses spend millions of pounds on data centre security, and for good reason. Data is one of the most valuable assets we have, along with the hardware and software that manages it. It’s rare to find a data centre that isn’t equipped with state of the art security; biometric locks, backup generators and comprehensive fire suppression.

When all this effort goes in to protecting business assets, it seems unlikely that the biggest threat to security could already be inside the data centre. Yet out of date, unpatched software is one of the things hackers look for when they prowl the internet, and your Windows server could be the invitation they’ve been waiting for.

The Problem With Windows

Windows Server is, generally, an excellent server solution. It’s built for enterprise performance, and its security is second to none – providing it’s kept updated. Microsoft’s update services for Windows Server keep software up to date automatically, at least while the product is current.

However, businesses can only count on Windows if it’s well maintained and up to date, and that’s where things get tricky. If Microsoft puts a product into an End of Life (EoL) phase, it’s a sign they need to take action fast.

In July, Windows 2003 is going to completely drop off Microsoft’s support schedule. There will be no patches, and no protection against new threats. If businesses are complacent about the potential consequences, they could find themselves with an expensive mess to clear up when hackers discover their old, unpatched server. And there is consequences way beyond data loss.

Compliance and Risk

Some industries attract much bigger compliance worries than others. While a small start-up need only protect a few hundred customer records, a large bank or insurance company has a much larger client base to protect.

It’s not just about usernames and passwords, either. There are myriad complex regulations covering consumer data, particularly in finance and medicine.

If any business is still using Windows 2003 after July 2015, and there’s an attack on the server, they’re vulnerable, and they only have themselves to blame. If the breach reaches the Information Commissioner’s office, there will be huge fines to pay, and the likelihood of negative media attention.

Worryingly, few businesses seem to have registered how serious this could be. According to research by Foxall, the End of Life for Server 2003 has attracted just 5 per cent of the publicity that Windows XP’s EoL attracted.

Cloud Solutions

Replacing servers can be an expensive and time-consuming process. Time is fast running out. If you haven’t taken action to retire your Windows 2003 server, you need to act fast to mitigate the risk, and we can provide a customised service that will help you meet the July deadline.

Cloud4 can set you up with hosted cloud servers – managed machines that slot directly into your existing data centre infrastructure. We can offer off-the-shelf solutions, or bespoke configurations especially for your business. Whether you’re already cloud-based or you’re yet to migrate, a cloud server is the ideal solution.