Will July 14 Be the Most Expensive Day of 2015?

The server your business uses to run critical applications could be about to face redundancy. Microsoft is retiring its phenomenally popular Windows Server 2003 operating system on July 14 2015, officially bringing it to the end of its useful life.

4262500695_dc3e0aa2b0_oAccording to vendor Hewlett-Packard, there were still 11 million Windows Server 2003 installations in active use as of May 2014. As the End of Life date approaches, many will now have been migrated or upgraded. But chances are that millions are still waiting their turn.

If your IT department has not yet made haste and asked you for the necessary funds to upgrade, it’s time to remind them. July 14 is not just a deadline for their system administrators: it’s a date the whole business should be ready for.

Not an IT Issue?

When it comes to large migration projects, the IT department isn’t always the department in charge of flicking the switch. While they do a lot of the leg work, the business has to put the wheels in motion, and that means approving the budget for the work and getting buy in from senior management.

Arguing the case is fairly easy. If your server isn’t migrated, your business will get hacked. It’s that simple. Nobody can tell you how long it will take for that to happen, but it will. Worse, nobody at Microsoft will prevent it, nor will they support you as you pick up the pieces.

Any preconceived ideas about server security should be set aside from July. You won’t be able to say that your server is secure, because you simply won’t know that for a fact. You won’t be able to claim that your email mailboxes haven’t been tampered with, either; you just won’t know about it until it’s too late. If you process payments, you’ll be non-compliant. And you won’t be able to promise your clients that you’re holding their personal data appropriately.

Of course, you could set up a custom support agreement and put off the move for a few more months. But if the budget is the issue that’s stalling a proper migration, that kind of contract is not going to make things cheaper. Quite the opposite.

It makes more sense to bite the bullet, invest the money and look at the Windows Server 2003 End of Life as an opportunity to improve and upgrade your infrastructure.

Making the Move28184160_d379a5d843_b

Before End of Life – the official name for the support end date – your business should have migrated away from Windows Server 2003. For some companies, that means migrating a couple of physical servers. Others will need to migrate dozens, or even hundreds. If you take into account the re-platforming and testing needed, there’s very little time to get this done.

Chances are, your system administrators have been desperate to upgrade your server farm since the end of 2014. If you don’t have an approved budget and a strategy for this urgent move, you need to get it signed off yesterday. And if your IT team doesn’t have a plan in place, bring in a consultancy now to accelerate the migration and figure out the best way to host your business critical applications.