A big problem with Windows Server 2003? Migration procrastination

Marc Thaler

When it comes to procrastinating, do you consider yourself an occasional or habitual offender? Perhaps you’re somewhere in the middle—like many of us.

“One in four (people) would describe themselves as a chronic procrastinator, (while) over half the population would describe themselves as frequent," Dr. Piers Steel told BBC News in October last year.

Don't-ProcrastinateRelax. This post isn’t intended to serve as a psychological evaluation. But it is meant to prevent you from postponing migration efforts where Windows Server 2003 (WS2K3) is concerned. Microsoft will end its support of the antiquated server operating system on July 14, 2015.

You may understand the significance of that fast-approaching date: no support, no security updates, and a giant increase in risk to WS2K3-powered companies come mid-July. But do your customers realize what’s at stake?

Either way, it’s a project managed service providers (MSPs) such as yourself may handle for clients who need to upgrade. And the sooner you start, the better off everyone will be.

This MAXfocus white paper examines the challenges WS2K3 poses to companies still relying on it. The term “reality check” quickly comes to mind when reading the opening paragraph:

“Solving the Windows Server 2003 end-of-life (EOL) problem is no easy task, particularly when it comes to the migration of poorly or unsupported, in-house or vendor-developed applications. A lot of MSPs and in-house IT shops have already endured significant grief migrating SMB business applications to Windows Server 2008 and Windows Server 2012.”

If you haven't started this project, the clock is ticking. Microsoft says the typical migration for WS2K3 takes 200 days. You can tack on an additional 100-plus days for application migration.

Citing Microsoft data released in July, the Wall Street Journal reported that “Businesses worldwide run an estimated 23.8 million physical and virtual instances of Windows Server 2003.” Industries that still rely most on WS2K3 include health care, government and utilities. But other sectors account for a portion of the pie, too.

What’s in store for companies that can’t meet the EOL deadline? Here’s more from the MAXfocus paper, which also details three tips for making the migration process easier:

“It stands to reason that if you could not move away from Windows Server 2003 for business reasons and even if you have done everything you can to reduce the attack service, you’re still exposed and that means you’re going to get attacked.”

An attack while out of compliance causes a host of headaches: hits to the budget (fines) and reputation (possible loss of business), to name two.

Suddenly, the working window between now and July 14, 2015 doesn’t seem nearly sufficient. It’s time to prioritize your most important projects.

And bump this one to the top of the list.

If you'd like to know more about how to protect your Windows Server 2003 system download our free whitepaper Solving the Windows Server 2003 end-of-life problem.

To find out how MAXfocus can enable you to offer a robust security service why not sign up for our free, fully-functioning 30-day trial?