Server 2003: It’s Now or Never For Ageing Servers

There cannot be a server administrator in the world who’s not aware of the deadline. Windows Server 2003 will reach end of life in less than three months’ time, so if you’re still using it, consider this a red alert. For your data, and your network security, it’s now or never.

Many businesses are facing the very real possibility that their systems are not going to be migrated before the deadline of 14th July.

Risks of Continued Use

From mid-July, Windows Server 2003 will be considered unsupported software, since Microsoft will essentially cut it from its moorings and leave it without any updates at all.

Fortunate users may simply see performance degradation or incompatibility with different peripherals or hardware. This is likely to worsen over time.

For other users, incompatibility may be the least of their problems. We are certain to see increased hacking attempts on Server 2003 machines, not just because they’re unsupported, but because hackers know these machines are likely to be running on autopilot – long since forgotten.

Businesses that carry compliance responsibilities should be well rid of Windows Server 2003 before the cut-off date arrives. Those that continue to use it could face serious compliance problems, leading to fines, penalties and audits.

Ways Forward

Yes, it’s late in the day, but you can still do something about your Windows Server 2003 machine.

Isolation is one option. You could, in theory, cut that machine off from the wider world. But is non-migration even practical, and is it a long-term solution that is worth spending money on? Windows 2003 support is going to become a legacy product within just a few months, and it doesn’t make sense to throw more money at it when better alternatives exist.

You could organise a custom support agreement for your ageing Windows 2003 servers. However, be prepared for a hefty monthly bill to keep those servers online. This is the only way you can guarantee that your server will be secure going forward, yet it could bankrupt the IT budget in the long term.

The best way forward is an upgrade to a newer server, most likely Windows Server 2012, either on-premise or in the cloud. On-premise migration could be a tall order, particularly given the short deadline, but that depends on the resource you have available for testing and deployment.

A cloud move could be the most sensible way to control operational expenses and keep upfront expenditure to a minimum. And while there are going to be costs and hurdles to plan for, it’s going to be cheaper than ringfencing an ageing server, or retaining the necessary knowledge to maintain it.

Cloud4 Solutions

In need a quick exit from the world of Windows Server 2003? We can help migrate your servers safely, securely and without unnecessary downtime. Whether you need a single hosted server or a complete IaaS package, our support will get your data off Windows Server 2003 as soon as you’re ready to migrate.

Get in touch to find out how our scalable, affordable servers could soothe your Server 2003 headache.

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.