8 Reasons to Stop Procrastinating and Migrate Off Windows Server 2003 Now
Microsoft for years has been telling customers that Windows Server 2003 will reach its end of life (EOL) on July 14, 2015. No more patches, no more security updates. Yet as the deadline approaches, millions of servers continue to run the operating system, and many of them are expected to continue well past July.
Why are some enterprise IT departments so reluctant to update their servers? In physics, an object at rest will stay at rest, just as an object in motion will continue on that path, until it meets an equal and opposite force. In other words, things tend to keep doing what they’re doing until they can’t anymore — and that law applies to IT organizations, too. IT will keep doing what it’s doing until it meets an equal and opposite force (such as, say, devastating regulatory penalties).
Face it — migrations can be incredibly complex, especially for larger enterprises with thousands of servers and hundreds of applications running on them. After establishing a roadmap that defines the destination, you need to assess those older applications for compatibility with the new operating platform (server or cloud) and then migrate, refactor or replace the applications as appropriate. This alone can take years for some organizations.
Other complicating factors include the always-important task of testing, which can be extensive depending on the impact of the changes. And some of the hardware, probably as old as Windows Server 2003 itself, will need to be replaced.
This complexity, including its potential costs, is the force preventing so many businesses from migrating. But there are at least eight counterforces that will throw off the equilibrium, prompting IT to stop procrastinating and migrate off Windows Server 2003 today:
1. Regulatory Penalties
Companies in many industries face substantial regulatory burdens, whether they oversee hazardous chemicals, money, pharmaceuticals or customer data. HIPAA, SOX, PCI, FDA, EPA and other government and industry regulations prohibit the use of outdated and unsupported systems. Falling out of compliance not only compromises those products or data but also penalizes the offenders. Such organizations, if allowed to continue operations, will fail audits and incur potentially crippling fines. They’ll also damage relationships with customers, regulators, vendors and alliance partners that must also maintain compliance.
2. Security Vulnerabilities
After Microsoft stops issuing software patches and security updates for Windows Server 2003, attackers will find new security holes to exploit. Experts from the United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US CERT) and most technology companies are warning that attacks could increase exponentially. When one of your end-of-life systems is breached because it wasn’t properly patched, you’ll be liable for the resulting damages and fines because you placed your infrastructure at risk.
One option for those that can’t migrate yet is to better secure and isolate those systems, as many electric utilities and tech companies are working to do. This means monitoring and shielding any servers running Windows Server 2003, and isolating them from the rest of the network. But additional investment in segmentation and a separate security system would be necessary. And it would be more of a Band-Aid than a long-term solution to the problem.
3. Failure and Unplanned Downtime
In 2013 alone, Microsoft issued 37 critical updates to Windows Server 2003. When those updates stop, the platform’s stability will be questionable. Plus, many of the servers are running on aging hardware, and all physical systems wear out and stop working someday. Realistically, an unsupported server could be crashed by the failure of an inexpensive 10-year-old capacitor. If that happens, your business-critical applications running on that server may not be recoverable. And finding compatible replacement hardware can be challenging, if not impossible.
Procrastination will almost certainly cost you more in the long run. The additional firewall and network segmentation, the workarounds, the audits — it all adds up. Even Microsoft says its “customer support agreements, which typically involve a 6- or 7-figure sum for an extension of support, can only buy you a bit more time.” Gartner advises budgeting $1,500 per server per year past end of life. After that, the fees can double or triple depending on how far out you go. It also costs more money to run and maintain aging hardware.
On the other hand, the application modernization that generally accompanies migration will usually reduce total cost of ownership and improve the enterprise’s risk profile. More savings may come from consumption-based pricing of cloud models that allow you to pay for only the computing that you use.
5. Growth and Agility
In 2003, the cloud wasn’t a major factor yet. Smartphones were just beginning to catch on. And what was an iPad? Windows Server 2003 was never intended to handle today’s mobile, cloud-dependent, omnichannel computing demands, not to mention bring-your-own-device (BYOD) work. Modern cloud platforms require current operating systems. Some will work on WS2008, but that’s also nearing EOL.
Migrating from Windows Server 2003 will prepare your organization to take full advantage of 10 years of cloud innovations. Speed, scale and availability are only the beginning. If you don’t migrate, you won’t have the agility to compete, and your company’s growth will be limited at best because its technology is obsolete.
6. Up-to-Date Applications
Surely you’ve noticed the jaw-dropping array of modern cloud-integrated and cloud-based applications available today, such as those powering the Internet of Things (IoT) and everything as a service. Modern platforms allow faster implementation of these applications and services. Forrester says that one of the benefits of migrating to WS2012 R2 is “new and improved services leading to a new marginal profit estimated at $600,000 per year.” This is based on a survey of 15 companies (averaging 15,000 employees) that migrated from WS2008 and embraced such services as mobile selling, social customer relationship management, internal collaboration or productivity systems, and integrated supply chain/product life-cycle management (PLM) systems.
7. New Flexible Cost Structure
One of the most popular benefits among CSC clients is the flexible cost structure that they get from cloud-based services, which are not available with Windows Server 2003. They reuse and automate services, unify licensing costs, shift to cost-only expenses, and easily and cost-effectively scale to the real needs of the business. Our clients also see significant improvement in capacity and consumption planning, allowing IT to dynamically address changing enterprise demands.
8. Microsoft Incentives
The final reason to migrate now is to take advantage of an incentive program that ends June 30, 2015. Microsoft is offering to support projects that have committed to new licenses of Windows Server 2012 or Azure services by providing discounts on assessment and rebates on new licenses of Windows Server, System Center, SQL Server or Azure.
Other products in the Microsoft suite will also reach end-of-life in the next two years, so the time to plan for modernization is now. Beyond moving your business to a modern platform, this is a great opportunity to invest in the applications of the future — and transport your business there at the same time.
If that’s not enough to convince you, contact us!
Already convinced? Learn about the next step — Migration Roadmap.