Microsoft has followed through and ended support for their popular Server 2003 product range on July 14, 2015. The product range included in this end of support process is the original Server 2003, the updated Windows Server 2003 R2 and Small Business Server 2003.
These products were aimed towards the small to medium-sized businesses. Supporting file and printer sharing, secure Internet connectivity, centralized desktop application deployment, and in the case of Small Business Server the addition of Microsoft Exchange (email) and SQL (database).
Now that Microsoft has ended support for Server 2003 they will no longer issue security updates or software patches for any version of Server 2003. If you continue to use this product it will be like basing your business on a piece of equipment that is 12 years old, no longer serviced and the manufacturer no longer provides parts for.
Ultimately businesses who continue to use Server 2003 will take on declining performance & escalating risk over time. For our customers that are required to follow HIPAA regulations, the risk is critical.
Upgrade or your business systems due to Security and Compliance Issues
If you are still using Server 2003 or Small Business Server 2003, you should take this situation seriously or your business will be negatively impacted with some significant consequences. You should consider the following information as you make your Server 2003 migration plan
Security Risks: The biggest concern is the security threat to your business. Without the security provided by an updated operating system, all of your business data and personal information is vulnerable to harmful viruses and spyware. There is a strong likelihood that malicious viruses will be developed & unleashed on Server 2003 now that it is no longer supported. No business owner wants to think about being attacked by Malware or their business not being able to function properly.
Compliance Issues: For many businesses, continuing to operate a non-supported software can result in compliance issues leading to the suspension of certifications, and/or public notification of the organization’s inability to securely maintain its systems and customer information. Compliance problems can place your business in legal peril and seriously damage your business’ reputation.
Upgrade Expenses: As a business owner trying to control costs, do you think an upgrade will be too expensive? Think again. The problems that are likely to arise can cost your business significantly more than the upgrade.
The good news is that Microsoft provides a number of alternatives that may suit your situation and budget.
So what are the alternatives for your business?
Windows Server 2012 R2 – Windows Server 2012 R2 offers a lengthy list of improvements compared with Windows Server 2003, including integrated virtualization, better security, extensive scalability, new operational roles, script execution capabilities, and far more. While it is a substantial learning curve to move directly from Windows Server 2003 to Windows Server 2012 R2, customers are well advised to not make an interim upgrade to Windows Server 2008 as that product has already gone to end of mainstream support in January 2015. Licensing & hardware investment can be significant to facilitate this migration.
Office 365 – This is a Microsoft cloud hosted version of much of the server software product plus it can be provisioned with the full range of Office software such as Email Outlook, Word, PowerPoint and Excel. By subscribing to this per user per month service you can avoid investing in new hardware and minimize on site running costs (such as electricity, rent, air conditioning, security). Smooth migration from Server 2003 to office 365 requires professional user management and ongoing administration much like a server, but without the critical infrastructure management (Microsoft does this in their data center), so IT support can more easily be outsourced.
Microsoft Azure – This is a hosted server product that Microsoft has developed for IT integrators to host their server infrastructure centrally and control locally, so software applications can be deployed and managed on an individual rather than collective basis. An Office 365 and Azure hybrid (using virtualization) may be a practical alternative for industries that have developed applications that are reliant on 32 bit technology that was the core of the 2003 product and may not be compatible with the new 64 bit technology.
Do you have a Server Migration plan in place?
Microsoft has gone through with the drop dead date for support for a serious reason, so this is not a situation you can simply ignore. Most large organizations have been working on their migration plans for years. For small-medium sized business owners, the hour has already passed so we strongly encourage you to take action today!
Geeks On Call encourages you to take this situation seriously and develop a migration plan immediately. Our experts can help you understand your migration options and work with you to develop an upgrade strategy for your business. Call Geeks On Call today at 1-800-905-GEEK before you run out of time.
ES- Owner/operator of Computer Troubleshooters MB