You may remember the buzz last year when Microsoft pulled the plug on its support of Windows XP. Less publicized, but perhaps even more critical, is the end of support for Microsoft Windows Server 2003. That is scheduled for July 14, 2015. Many businesses may be unaware, but there’s a good chance their most important computers are running on this soon-to-be-outdated operating system. They may be equally unaware that hanging on to Windows Server 2003 after Microsoft ends support in July will cost them plenty and could put their business at risk.
The Price of Inactivity
If you elect to remain using Windows Server 2003 after support ends, you might see a costly impact on your organization’s bottom line. There are a number of good reasons not to be running a defunct operating system once support has ended.
Compliance – Depending on the nature of your business, you may be under legal obligation to meet industry-wide compliance standards and regulations. After Windows Server 2003 support ceases, your organization will likely fail to meet these requirements. This could generate an increase in operating costs due to penalties and high transaction fees. It could potentially result in lost customers too.
Security – When bug fixes and security patches stop being applied to Windows Server 2003, your system will be exposed to security threats as new vulnerabilities go unaddressed. To continue operating an unsupported system, you will need to spend considerable sums on advanced firewalls, intrusion detection systems and other expensive security measures.
Maintenance Costs – In addition to the cost of protecting unsupported servers, your business will have to shoulder the increasing costs of hardware maintenance. Some estimates place the cost of custom support for servers running Windows Server 2003 after July 2015 in the region of $1,500 per server, per year.
Hardware/Software Compatibility – New software releases and hardware devices that arrive after Windows Server 2003 support has ended are unlikely to be compatible with the retired platform. If you continue to run with Windows Server 2003, future applications will be off limits to your business and you won’t be able to take advantage of many new hardware developments either.
Where Do You Go From Here?
There’s little benefit to be had from holding on to legacy servers. Now is the time to get busy with your migration strategy. Fortunately, a number of options exist for organizations looking to transition their data from Windows Server 2003, including upgrading to a newer, supported version of Windows Server such as 2008 or 2012, or migrating your data to a cloud-based platform.
Transitioning to the Cloud
One great advantage of cloud computing is that you can quickly, easily and inexpensively get access to the resources and data storage volumes that you need, when you need them. The price of business success can sometimes be higher than anticipated, especially if you outgrow your on-premises hardware capabilities. When you put your data in the cloud, scaling up generally entails little more than an incremental increase in hosting fees, sparing your capital expenditure budget.
Add the peace of mind that comes with multiple layers of world-class security (cloud providers’ existence depends on affording customers the best in data protection) and it’s not so hard to see why the demise of Windows Server 2003 is, for many enterprises, an opportunity to switch from on-premises to hosted cloud computing solutions.