It’s true: Microsoft will stop supporting Windows Server 2003 this coming July.
For a few years now, Microsoft has been saying goodbye to a generation of its most successful products, including Windows XP, Office 2003, and more. Microsoft is now getting ready to play The Doors’ epic goodbye song “The End” for their extremely successful Windows Server 2003 platform in just a few months.
For twelve years, Server 2003 has served companies well. More than a decade of regular updates and fixes have made it a solid, reliable platform for tens of millions of applications running on millions of servers worldwide.
This July, that comes to an end.
Microsoft pulled the plug on regular support in 2010, but many companies have bought time – or limped along – by depending on paid extended support. That’s all over soon.
Make no mistake: This is a big deal – an infinitely more difficult matter than the transition from an outmoded desktop operating system. Many companies had issues when migrating from the now-obsolete Windows XP environment, when only user applications and data were involved. Migrating out of a system handling critical enterprise apps and data is an infinitely more daunting prospect.
Microsoft issued over thirty critical upgrades to Server 2003 over the past year, and soon these will come to a screeching halt. Server 2003 environments will suddenly be subject to security and compatibility issues that they hadn’t experienced previously experienced. And as for achieving compliance with regulatory or industry standards: Forget about it.
It’s something a lot of companies wished would never happen – and some have basically pretended that it wouldn’t. Chances are that those who failed to prepare for the inevitable demise of Server 2003 face a rocky road ahead as they try to rapidly adapt. For a lot of companies, that means finally having to initiate a complex program of upgrades, testing, re-thinking, re-developing, re-engineering – without meaningful downtime or disruption of business. For firms that have waited too long to begin the migration process, it may be a difficult period marked by late hours, writing lots of checks, and constant worry.
One thing is certain: It’s better to start making the change now rather than later. With a few months remaining on Server 2003’s support clock, companies can still begin the process of an orderly, controlled transition, allowing themselves at least some of the time and breathing room they need to strategize, test, and deploy. The sooner companies act, the more likely they are to minimize security risks, business disruption and other hazards inherent in the process.
So with Server 2003 about to effectively bite the dust, what’s next? There are a number of options available, but your company’s unique requirements will drive the decisions you make. We’ll discuss some of these in my upcoming posts as I dig into the process of conducting your own company assessment and strategy.
By Rob Tessanne
Data Center Team Manager/Architect