image-prehistoric-IT-companyWith just about 3 months away, Windows Server 2003 end of life is rapidly approaching. We know you’ve heard it from us before, but the average migration can take upwards of 100 days. What does this mean for a business still running Windows Server 2003? To put it simply, it’s time to get serious about removing this 12-year-old operating system from your IT infrastructure. End of life means that Microsoft will no longer release security patches. Vulnerabilities will not be fixed. After July 14, 2015, when Server 2003 misbehaves, you’ll be on your own. As soon as support stops, it is inevitable that hackers will be working around the clock to find vulnerabilities.

If you are in a regulated industry or handle regulated data, including healthcare and payment card industry data, you may find that you will be out of compliance, which could mean fines or being cut off from partners that strive to protect their own regulatory compliance status. Perhaps you are not governed by PCI or HIPPA. Maintaining an unsupported and unpatched operating system is not “best practice” for any business. Wouldn’t you agree?

The reality is a lot has changed over the past decade. Think about it, back in 2003 the average computer weighed more than your dog and your computer monitor was the size of a microwave oven. To put it into perspective, the GSM BlackBerry 6210 was the only smartphone you could get. How many are in use today? How about the iPhone which would be introduced four years later in 2007? How many iPhone upgrades have you had since then? It goes without saying that significant engineering improvements have been made to operating systems since then. How long can we squeeze value out of Server 2003? We’ve benefited from manufacturer warranties and updates. However, now we’ve come to a point in time when deferring an upgrade could cost more than time and labor such as data loss and application failure.

The complexity of migrating off of Windows Server 2003 is unique to each business. The planning process can be daunting. We’d like to ensure that you have the best plan in place. We may already be discussing a plan with you to phase out Windows 2003 Server; if not, it’s time to get serious!

First published in our February 2015 IT Radix Resource newsletter