What to do when Windows 2003 support ends 

Here, in association with Zynstra, we look at the deadline of July 14 and why businesses should be mindful of Microsoft no longer issuing security updates.

Here, in association with Zynstra, we look at the deadline of July 14 and why businesses should be mindful of Microsoft no longer issuing security updates.

Windows Server 2003 support is ending July 14, 2015, meaning after this date, Microsoft will no longer issue security updates for any version of Windows Server 2003.

If you are still running Windows Server 2003 in your organisation, you need to take steps now to plan and execute a migration strategy to protect you from security risks.

But what does end of support really mean for you and your business?

Microsoft released 37 critical updates during 2013 for Windows Server 2003. These seemingly invisible updates will have protected your business and data.

As Nick East, CEO of Zynstra states, ‘One thing is for certain, if you do nothing you may risk everything. Businesses that choose to continue running 2003 run the risk of major business trauma.”

‘Migration away from the decade-old operating system doesn’t have to be as painful as you may think. It’s important to understand that although organisations need to act now, you don’t have to change everything all at once. This IT refresh can be an evolution rather than a revolution.’

Non compliance

Ensuring confidential data is secure is a must for any organisation. Technical audits will typically include validating that systems are viable and supported by the relevant vendors. If your organisation is bound by commitment / compliance to data security and/or service availability regulations, then why put yourself and your customer’s data at risk?

For example, if your organisation is required to be PCI compliant and continues to run the out-of-support platform, then Visa and MasterCard can withdraw their services until your systems are updated to meet their standards. This would result in lost business or dramatically increase the cost of doing business, in the form of high transaction fees and penalties. Most organisations also have obligations relating to data privacy and protection under at least one jurisdiction.

Increased costs

The cost of migrating away from WS2003 will need to be understood. Questions around a proactive or reactive move will likely be part of that discussion. CFO’s may want to exhaust the usage from aging servers, but waiting until there is an outage or security breach will inevitably cost your organisation more in cash, performance and reputation in the long run.

In addition, the costs of maintaining your legacy servers can quickly add up. Maintenance and power costs for aging hardware will be more expensive than a modern efficient and supported platform, and you will have to deal with the added cost of intrusion detection systems, more advanced firewalls, and network segmentation – all simply to isolate your outdated servers.

If you’re running WS2003 (or other outdated technology), you need to start planning your migration now.

Security risks

It’s rare to see a day, week or month go by without news of a security breach.

According to Symantec, in 2013 there was a 91 per cent increase in targeted attack campaigns over the previous year and globally over 522M identities were exposed via breaches. With stats like these, ensuring your systems are fully protected is becoming more important each day.

You shouldn’t dwell on the above list of seemingly ‘apocalyptic’ issues. July 14 2015 should not be seen as a date to fear, it should be seen as one of the greatest opportunities for organisations to refresh and update their IT capability in the last decade.

Yes there is a project to complete, but there has never been a greater time to review, assess and make decisions that will deliver IT that can assist your organisation to thrive.

The need to refresh servers

Research from Zynstra and The Cloud Industry Forum (CIF) shows that 72 per cent of businesses use infrastructure refresh as an opportunity to refine their IT strategy. Over the past four years, cloud adoption rates have grown by 61.5 per cent, such that now 78 per cent of businesses have one or more cloud-based services in use, while 71 per cent of companies expect to retain on-premise IT for the foreseeable future.

Typically as a minimum, organisations want to retain control and management of their user credentials, data intensive applications and print on site. So the future for most is a hybrid one.

WS2003 end of support could signal the beginning of a new stage in your organisation’s IT evolution. By taking advantage of the many benefits cloud services deliver and with the continuous technological developments, the vision you have for your IT estate could soon become a reality. 

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Computer & IT Business

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