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In a little over seven months, Microsoft Corp. will be ending its support for the Windows Server 2003 operating system.

For some organizations the July 14, end-or-support deadline doesn’t leave much time for IT administrators and managers to figure out the complexities of updating machines running on the 11-year-old server operating system to the newer Windows Server 2008 or Windows Server 2012 or transfer existing workload to the cloud.

Microsoft estimates that sever migration process will take at least 200 days and application migration will most likely cover more than 300 days.

However, only a small number of organizations currently using Windows Sever 2003 actually have mapped out a migration path, according to a 2014 poll conducted that by AppZero, an application migration firm.

The company found that 28 per cent of respondents have 1,000 or more machines running Windows Server 2003. However, only a quarter, or 25 per cent have an upgrade plan in place.

Research by information technology advisory firm Gartner Inc. indicates that there are several issues organizations face with regards to server migration:

  • For many firms there is little time left to migrate all the systems that are running Windows Server 2003 and Windows Server 2003 R2 to a newer version before support ends in July 2015.
  • Third-party products may become unsupported as well
  • Operating servers with unsupported OS leaves the data center open to future risks due to unfixed security exposures or malfunctioning software
  • Choosing among the many possible tools and approaches to mitigate the risk is difficult and highly dependent on the individual system and the IT environment
  • No single solution will address all scenarios; the best practice is to establish a combination of approaches based on a risk management analysis

Some of the best practices introduced by Microsoft when it released Windows Server 2003 are no longer applicable said Michael Tweddle, Dell executive director of Windows management, in a recent interview with Computerworld UK.

For example, Active Directory, a core component of Windows Server, keeps track of a firm’s users and group accounts.

However, today, branch offices have much more bandwidth than they did decades ago and it makes better sense to centralize Active Directory an d have branch offices access the services remotely.

Tweddle also said that Windows Server 2012 is better equipped to get companies on the cloud because the newer OS supports tolls that have specific connection points to Microsoft Azure and Office365 cloud services.

Enterprise organizations dragging their feet on migration could be placing their data and customers at considerable risk,” according to Suresh Vaswani, president of Dell Service. Dell offers a comprehensive portfolio of Windows migration services.

End of support means, Microsoft will no longer be sending out patches to fix newly discovered vulnerabilities, leaving machines running the old OS vulnerable to attacks. Microsoft estimates that there are is about 20 million copies of Windows Server 2003 still running on machines.

“They may also face lack of compliance with various regulatory and industry standards, which could impact their business, particularly in highly regulated industries such as finance or healthcare,” according to Vaswani.



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