July 14th is an important date in the business technology world. Why? Because it’s a major landmark for users of Windows Server 2003. In just a few short months, Microsoft will no longer support this decade-old server operating system. Therefore, you must take steps to upgrade away from this server OS before it’s too late.
You might recall the fiasco created by the Windows XP end-of-support date just last year. If you’re one of the businesses who waited too long to upgrade away from Windows XP, you know how stressful and irritating running an unsupported operating system can be. We’re hoping that you’ve at least heard about this fast-approaching Windows Server 2003 end-of-support date, but if you haven’t, don’t panic… yet. There’s still plenty of time to upgrade your operating systems. You want to make sure you do so before you’re left running with vulnerable and unsupported software.
If you have known about this end-of-support date for a while, you might have made arrangements to upgrade your servers to a more recent OS. In fact, unlike Windows XP, a recent survey by Avandade revealed that a whopping 80 percent of businesses who utilize Windows Server 2003 have already considered or made plans to upgrade. This just goes to show that consumers handle technology in a vastly different manner than a business does.
Since the end of support date doesn’t arrive for a few more months (on July 14th), there’s still plenty of time left to upgrade. Whether or not you’ve started planning, it’s important that you shouldn’t use Windows Server 2003 past July 14th. Up until the end of its support, Microsoft will provide patches and updates to the OS. However, past July 14th, this maintenance will cease to occur, meaning that your servers will be vulnerable to attacks from hackers. These hackers probably consider end-of-support dates as holidays, hoping to reap the benefits of catching business owners unawares.
Large corporations with well-funded in-house IT departments might not have much issue upgrading, but for the small and medium-sized business, it might be a problem; specifically, for those who have anywhere between 30-to-100 server units. Ian Stephan, HP’s vice president and general manager for servers in EMEA, described this risk to V3.co.uk:
For most small companies, it’s a relatively simple transition. They are probably buying one or two servers every three or four years and the next server they buy will have an up-to-date operating system version. The customer that worries me is the one that has 30 or more servers, probably of mixed ages, and they may have heard something about the end of life deadline, but they may not be doing anything about it.
Naturally, the companies that are experiencing the most growth will be the ones who are affected most by the death of Windows Server 2003. With a medium-sized company, they likely have a small in-house IT team that takes care of general maintenance and upkeep. This team might be stretched thin and may find it difficult to take care of important tasks, like upgrading the OS. Additionally, Stephan explains that these companies might also be running multiple servers with different operating systems installed on each one, making it tricky for these businesses to upgrade.
Thus, the SMB is “stuck in a rut,” so to speak. They might not have the manpower to upgrade right away, and they might not have the luxury of switching out their server every couple of years. When this happens, running software that’s over a decade old doesn’t sound so farfetched. When an IT department is swamped with work, it’s easy for necessary upgrades to be forgotten or pushed to the back burner. This is where PACE Technical Services’s managed IT services come in handy. We can handle the monitoring and maintenance of your mission-critical systems to ensure they’re operating properly. This means integrating the latest upgrades and patches into your IT infrastructure, without the expensive surprise bill.
Granted, the SMB should understand that upgrading away from Windows Server 2003 is often more complicated than simply refreshing your software. You might need to replace the hardware itself. After all, a server that’s over a decade old isn’t reliable, and anything could happen to it. Stephan makes this point to V3: “It probably means a box change for a lot of customers, not simply a reinstall, because the hardware is now so old it is no longer sufficient.”
Such a project requires expertise, which is why letting PACE Technical Services in on the upgrading fun is advantageous to your business. We can keep your IT staff caught up by making sure routine maintenances and hardware upgrades occur when they’re supposed to. This lets you concentrate more on day-to-day operations, and essentially frees your team up for more important procedures and projects.
If you have any concerns over the upcoming end-of-support date for Windows Server 2003, give PACE Technical Services a call at 905.763.7896.