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1.6 Million to Miss Windows Server 2003 End of Support Deadline

27 Apr 2015 by Jessica Hall

Gartner estimates 8 million instances of the Windows Server® 2003 operating system in operation. Though many organizations are in the process of working toward migrating, SI Avanade approximates that 1.6 million will miss the end-of-support deadline.

Running systems — such as finance, accounting, manufacturing, enterprise resource planning and others — integral to many organizations that are failing to upgrade Windows 2003 servers can come at a huge cost.

So why are businesses ignoring the deadline? The reasons are threefold:

1. We have a limited budget right now.

No matter its size or financial status, your organization may be getting pushback or facing delays from the finance department when it comes to funding the upgrades. One of the reasons may be that it’s coming as a surprise to them.

“As a gross generalization, we’ve found that IT departments exited 2014 without including the costs associated with the appropriate initiatives needed to address Windows Server 2003 end of support in their 2015 budget,” explains David Mayer, practice director of Microsoft® solutions at Insight.

The amount of discovery, planning and up-front budgeting that needed to occur during the latter half of last year simply didn’t happen. “As a general rule, there wasn’t enough of a sense of urgency on behalf of the majority of companies with Windows 2003 servers,” he adds.

Some organizations underestimated the level of complexity related to migrating to a new operating system. “They thought that they could complete it within the normal course of business. But, for those that have hundreds or thousands of these servers, that’s too much to ask of an internal team that already has routine responsibilities,” states Mayer.

“There also was the hangover effect from Windows XP desktop end of life,” he adds, as another reason for the lack of financial planning. “In some cases, companies had to budget millions of dollars to make that conversion.” Many organizations are still regrouping from that and, therefore, have limited resources.

With the primary alternative being to purchase extended support from Microsoft, companies are facing a new financial line item regardless of when they choose to address Windows Server 2003 end of support. The only difference is that migrating from Windows Server 2003 solves the problem, while leaning on extended support acts as a bandage.

2. We’ll migrate to the cloud soon — it’ll be easy.

One-third of Windows Server 2003 users report that they plan to upgrade to the cloud. This is a sound solution and a strategic change in many regards. Where they go astray is in believing that this process will be as simple as powering down Windows 2003 servers and installing the application in the cloud. It’s not that quick or easy.

“If you decide to use Azure, it runs on Windows Server 2012. So if the application won’t run on Windows 2012 servers on premises, it won’t run on cloud either,” Mayer explains. “You still need to do the work to migrate the applications to the correct operating system, regardless of where it lives.”

3. The resources aren’t available to tackle the complex tasks.

This is not an unreasonable rationalization. After migrating email, Web hosting and file servers, the workloads left on Windows Server 2003 are intricate in nature and massive in size.

But there’s a good reason for taking our eyes off the low-hanging fruit and focusing on what may seem harder to reach first. “Generally, the complicated items are complex because they’re running some type of business application that’s either revenue-producing or hosting customer data,” Mayer states.

In taking the misguided approach of overlooking the intricate tasks, organizations are putting their mission-critical application at risk. “I would say the ones that you would want to tackle first are the difficult ones,” he advises. “If an outsider were to gain access to the data contained on those complex applications, that’s what’s going to be incredibly detrimental to your business.”

Those intricate applications will also take more resources and more time to migrate.

Insight recommends tackling it from both ends. “Working concurrently, you can have one team complete the simple tasks, like migrating file and print servers, while another team addresses the difficult items. Then, the two teams can meet in the middle to focus on what’s in between — things like Active Directory® and email servers,” Mayer illustrates.

Prepare for Windows Server 2003 end of support by getting more information at www.insight.com/serverignite.

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