Windows Server 2003 reaches D-Day: Are you still holding onto it?

|July 14, 2015 0

Soma Tah

From tomorrow onwards, Microsoft will no longer issue security updates for any version of Windows Server 2003, unless you have signed a custom contract with Microsoft to get security updates for a set period.

A study by CloudPhysics reveals that people continue to run legacy OSes on vSphere plaforms. It estimates that 18 percent or roughly one of every five Windows server VMs is still on Windows Server 2003 today. At this rate they are expected to continue using Windows Server 2003 until well into 2018 even after it loses product support.

But, continuing your business unsupported makes your infrastructure vulnerable, carries risks and may result in compliance violations as well. Hence, If you are still running Windows Server 2003, It is time to think about the best possible migration options.

“Business leaders in some organizations could be resistant towards this migration due to the costs involved and also to some extent, due to misguided notions that IT can magically fix problems even if Microsoft withdraws support, simply by spending more time and effort on the problem,” said Sid Deshpande, Principal Analyst, Gartner.

The major security issue with end of support is that new vulnerabilities in Windows Server 2003 will no longer be patched by Microsoft. “The reality is that hackers commonly exploit vulnerabilities in unsupported platforms to execute their attacks, and no amount of ingenuity on the part of the IT team can patch vulnerabilities and respond effectively in the short span of time available once an attack is underway. While not all vulnerability exploits will result in a significant incident, there is a very real possibility ofessential business services being affected in such a scenario,” warns Deshpande.

Some upgrade options to consider are:


If you don’t want to step out of your comfort zone, upgrading to the Windows Server 2008 or Microsoft”s newest version, Windows Server 2012 R2 could be an easier option. By migrating to Windows Server 2012 R2, Microsoft Azure or Office 365, you can achieve benefits, such as improved performance, reduced maintenance requirements, and increased agility and speed of response to the business.
But the support for Windows Server 2008 will also end in 2020, while considering Windows Server 2012 can keep you worry-free for an extended period.


One more cost effective option is to migrate some or all of your applications and workloads to the private, public or hybrid cloud, if you don’t want to bear any upfront cost for infrastructure upgrades. Besides, this gives you a chance to look at the critical as well as not-so-critical applications that are running on legacy Windows server and decide if you can get rid of them and use cloud cost-effectively for some workloads. You can consider public cloud offerings such as Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Service or Google cloud. There are many more as well. But if you don’t want to lose control over your data and costs, then public cloud is simply not for you.


You can also consider Red Hat Enterprise Linux as a future migration option. Red Hat in its Migrating from Windows to Red Hat Enterprise Linux executive brief has argued that upgrading to new Windows infrastructure, 2008 or 2012, would incur significant expenses associated with additional licenses, client access licenses, software licenses, migration, and future maintenance. “According to the Linux Foundation1, Linux growth is now outpacing Windows in worldwide server operating environments. A primary reason for this dominance is the capacity for Linux to host new workloads and drive innovation. As more companies turn to public cloud, OpenStack, and other open technologies, more embrace Linux as their enterprise operating system,” said the executive brief.

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