Microsoft is urging New Zealand companies who run off Windows Server 2003 and Windows Server 2003 R2 to make plans for migrations as this week marks seven months until these systems will no longer be supported.
A server upgrade for a small to medium sized company typically takes around six months and the 11 year old operating system will no long receive updates or security patches after July 15, 2015.
The globally popular and trusted system powers the IT infrastructure of many organisations in New Zealand, providing computing workloads for all kinds of enterprise applications supporting email, web and Line of Business applications. Microsoft reports that many significant companies in New Zealand are yet to migrate, in broad ranging and critical industries including agriculture, forestry and fishing, banking and capital markets, discrete manufacturing, education, government, health, hospitality and travel, insurance, media and cable, power and utilities, public safety and national security, retail and consumer goods, and telecommunications.
While companies can continue to run Windows Server 2003 after July 15 next year, it will leave servers and applications vulnerable to security threats and downtime, and may no longer meet compliance requirements. Maintenance costs for aging hardware will also increase along with costs for intrusion detection systems, firewalls and network segmentation.
Frazer Scott, Director of Marketing & Operations for Microsoft New Zealand, says, “With the end of support date nearing, we are strongly urging customers who currently run Windows Server 2003 and have not yet begun migration planning to do so immediately, as it can typically take around 200 days to make a typical server migration. Ideally, companies need to start the process before Christmas, otherwise they may run out of time.
“We are concerned by a recent Gartner report that points out that business leaders may not be aware of the risks they would face if Windows Server 2003 systems are not migrated in time, leaving IT leaders at fault for the incomplete disclosure if problems later arise, so really want to stress that the planning starts straight away,” says Scott.
A report on the impact of continued use of Windows Server 2003 published by analyst firm Gartner in October 2014 found that attacks on security vulnerabilities can occur at a moment's notice and can cause extended or permanent shutdown of services. The paper also points out that non-IT people often believe that IT departments or companies can correct any service problem in a reasonable time, but situations can arise where no amount of time, ingenuity or money can restore safe and correct operation.
Customers have a range of migration options, including the new Windows Server, Microsoft Azure, hosting partners, and Office 365. Microsoft and partners have tools and guidance to help.
Retiring a product is a normal part of the product lifecycle. Windows Server 2003 was released in April 2003 and while most Microsoft software is supported for 10 years, Windows Server 2003 has been supported for almost 12 years.