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Windows Server 2003 End of Service: Plan and Assess

26 Jan 2015 by Shay Moser

Over the past year, you heard the warnings about Microsoft Windows Server 2003 end of service on July 14, 2015. Not surprising. According to Microsoft research, the issue has the potential to impact 23.8 million instances of Windows Server 2003, which is running on 11.9 million physical servers worldwide. That’s an estimated 39 percent of all installed Microsoft Server operating systems.

Microsoft will no longer provide critical support, automatic fixes, updates, or provide technical assistance past the deadline. Businesses have the option to upgrade to a newer, supported operating system, replace servers, or transition their IT operations to a cloud-based service.

Now six months away from the July deadline, the issue is only growing worse. Many businesses have yet to take any steps, let alone the right steps to meet the Windows Server 2003 end of service deadline. Those that don’t will face $1,500 per server. Worse, they open their businesses up to cyber attacks and data loss.

As with any alert by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, people are chiming in with, “Can we meet the July 14 deadline?” and “How do we do so in such a short timeline while avoiding the pitfalls?

The short answer to the first question? Absolutely. “Organizations with more than 100 servers should plan for a time frame that ranges anywhere from three to 18 months,” says David Mayer, practice director of Microsoft Solutions at Insight.

The longer answer to the second question? Read on to find out the first pitfall to avoid with Windows Server 2003 end of service. And be sure to follow Insight ON to learn the next four pitfalls to avoid with migration.

Pitfall No. 1: Insufficient Planning and Assessment

Many businesses have launched upgrade migrations without knowing the full extent of the server environment, including what critical applications are in use. Disastrously, businesses are not assessing what data needs to be moved, what does not, and what should never be moved.

It’s imperative that organizations first uncover which servers and applications are operating on the software, as well as how servers and applications interact.

“We’ve seen scenarios where an organization moved one server and it ended up impacting another. Because the connection was severed, it suddenly wouldn’t work,” explains Mayer. He instructs organizations to map everything out, understanding what interacts with what, when, how, and what users are accessing it.

Motivated by Windows Server 2003 pitfalls, Insight created a Rapid Response Team to help organizations perform a detailed environment discovery as well as an application and services dependencies discovery, leading to an application rationalization. Stakeholder interviews are also integral to this phase of the plan.

During this phase, the server environment must also be ranked to prioritize high-risk servers above medium- and low-priority servers. With that system in place, a timeline helps migrate the most at-risk servers before the deadline and addresses those that are not at a high risk, such as a print server, after the Windows Server 2003 support deadline.

Learn more on how to address the Microsoft Windows Server 2003 end of service by visiting www.insight.com/ServerIgnite or call 1-800-INSIGHT.


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