Similar to Windows XP earlier this year, extended support for Windows Server 2003 will end on July 14, 2015. Customers are once again being urged to upgrade and decommission any remaining Server 2003 systems prior to this date.
Windows Server 2003 was officially released on April 24, 2003, which means the venerable server operating system will be over 12 years old at its end-of-life (EOL) date and has already replaced by newer versions multiple times.
We are encouraging all clients, especially those in the healthcare and banking industries, to make immediate plans to migrate and avoid being caught off-guard without security updates.
Some of the key concerns customers will face at the end of the extended support cycle include:
Elimination of security fixes – One of the biggest drivers for migration is the end of security fixes for Server 2003. Regardless of the severity, Microsoft will no longer be releases patches to address any security vulnerability discovered after July 14 – making any future vulnerabilities permanent. This is a big problem because compared to old Windows XP workstations, servers are far more likely to be directly exposed to the internet and contain more sensitive data, which poses an increased risk of compromise without future security patches.
Lack of support – Although most customers rarely contact Microsoft directly, qualified companies like InfoTECH Solutions can leverage our partnership with Microsoft to get direct access to high-level support engineers for complex issues. After Server 2003 reaches EOL, we will no longer have this option and support options during major outages will be much more limited.
Application support challenges – Application vendors are unlikely to continue supporting Server 2003 as a compatible platform for their software after EOL. Vendors typically avoid complex support matrices and will prefer a small number of newer, more common operating systems – forcing customers to upgrade to stay current.
Compliance issues – Customers who operate in regulated industries or handle regulated data, such as healthcare, banking, or PCI data, will likely find that they are out of compliance without the ability to address security flaws in their operating system.
There are many options for shedding vulnerable Server 2003 systems for more secure solutions, but what’s the best path forward? Every business has different needs and we always try to craft solutions that are affordable, minimize disruption, and future proof your business. Some businesses may want to simply install a new 2012 R2 server, the latest server OS from Microsoft. Others may want to explore alternative operating systems or computing models, such as Cloud Servers deployed instantly in secure datacenters.
We recommend working with our Solutions Team and developing a plan of action that best balances your business needs and budget. But don’t wait too long – server migrations can be complex and sufficient planning time is key to a successful deployment.