Windows Server 2003 Support Ending Soon – 4 Important Things to Keep in Mind

IT is one of the most demanding jobs that anyone can work. It has one of the highest stress levels and commitment requirements that you can imagine. Most people don’t realize just how much work goes into building and maintaining a working network, so it makes no one happy when big changes are forced on you. Even after a sigh of relief given to the world by Microsoft, XP support came to an end. Did you migrate in time? Are you struggling to fix problems because you haven’t and there is no help to be seen?

Well I for one am glad to not be the bearer of bad news, but just reporting it. If you haven’t moved off of Windows Server 2003 yet, you have 1 year to do so before extended support ends. If you’re reading this, chances are you know how product life cycles work and what EOL (end-of-life) is. But, since we’re all here I’ll recap. When a piece of software is released, the company, especially Microsoft already has a defined life span for the product. This life span has 2 phases.

The first phase is the one where they provide complete support with new releases and patches. Microsoft calls this “Mainstream Support”.

The second phase the new releases end and only fixes are released. This is the “extended support” period.

Depending on the product, each phase lasts about 3-5 years and when extended support ends, if you haven’t migrated you could find yourself in big trouble. If you’re still using the product after that date and find a bug and it doesn’t matter if it’s a nuisance or killing your business, you will not get any help from Microsoft. Well, they do have special support programs at that point, but it’s cheaper to migrate then fall into that situation.

So here’s the deal…Come July 14th, 2015 extended support will officially be over for Windows Server 2003 and while they have a $200k support plan after that, I think we can all agree that this money would be much better spent getting your organization to a newer OS. You’re going to have to do it anyway, but everyone will be much happier if you’re doing it on your terms and not because you need to put out fires. I don’t want to even imagine anyone being unlucky enough to hit a problem that kills their network and brings the business to a halt. That thought alone sounds pretty expensive. So here are some things to keep in mind…

  1. For the average enterprise size business, it can take 80% or more of a year to complete a server migration and that’s if everything goes smoothly
  2. Microsoft has acknowledged and provided a description and workaround of an authentication bug when you have Windows 2003 and 2012 R2 domain controllers serving the same domain. The reason you should be aware of this is if you are going to be migrating by setting up new servers on the same domain then moving everything over, this will be something to consider. I imagine the only way to avoid this is to setup the new environment with a new domain. You can go to this TechNet link to get more info. →
  3. If you need to do this, you have to start planning today. There is less then a year left and you will need every single day you can get to make this migration successful
  4. I never like to mix unrelated variables in a project, but if you haven’t gone the way of virtualization yet, this would be a place I would consider making an exception. For one, it will simplify many things. You will need less hardware, it will be easier to manage the hardware, not to mention the cost of hardware will be lower and last but certainly not least, it will be easier to handle any configuration or other issues that come up, since rolling back any problems does not require reinstalling everything from scratch

On a related note, we are also going to see the end of mainstream support for Windows 7 on January 13th, 2015, as well as Windows Server 2008, 2008 R2 and other Windows applications. Those are just a few and you can search the Microsoft Product Lifecycle database for any of their products to find out if you have any important end of support dates coming up. This page can be found here →

If you have any questions you can’t find an answer to with regards to the Mircosoft end-of-life policy or any migration questions, just leave a comment below and we’ll try and help you get an answer for your question.

By | 2017-07-22T13:03:01+00:00 August 5th, 2014|Categories: Apps, Featured Post|Tags: , , , |0 Comments
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