Date: 14/04/2015

Are you all at sea when it comes to Windows Server 2003?

by Guido Marchetti, cloud solutions specialist, MJ Flood Technology

Here we are again. Yet another large, software platform is being retired. On 14th July, or Bastille Day as it’s known to our Gallic brethren, Microsoft will cease its in-life support services for Windows Server 2003. This means it will no longer develop patches, security updates/fixes or any updates for the platform.   So if you haven’t updated by this deadline, your business will be using unsupported software.

So what about those of us who choose to blissfully ignore this impending date or for legacy reasons just can’t move?

To continue the battle references, if you’re like the US Navy you may be able to boast deep enough pockets to the tune of $9 million. That’s the amount, according to Newsweek, paid to Microsoft so that the US defence forces can continue to use Windows XP, discontinued for us mere mortals over a year ago.

Now I’m willing to bet that not too many of us have that type of money at our disposal but it doesn’t detract from the fact that a significant number of organisations will face complex challenges in terms of how to continue providing legacy software access on a defunct operating system.

But apart from these complexities, why do we ignore advancements in technology and insist on sticking with what we know?

  • Habit is one explanation I suppose; better the devil we know and all of that.
  • We could also claim (and in most cases it’s true) that we just can’t afford to keep up with the latest and greatest technology.  We want value for money, high return on investment and oftentimes the frequency of software updates is just plain incompatible with that.
  • And of course, let’s not forget those beloved gremlins; the ones that always seem to make an unwelcome and disruptive appearance with major updates. We choose to let others act as ‘guinea pig’ and wade through those software bugs before we decide to take the plunge.

But the IT world that we live in today has changed vastly. In many instances, software vendors are leading with a cloud first approach with the result that many well-known software packages are now delivered via SaaS. And that in itself reveals a little known secret; cloud-based platforms are actually stable.

Let’s just look at email for a second, perhaps one of the most mature cloud-based software services. Microsoft Exchange – the online version that lives within Office 365 – is now on its third generation and is about to go to a fourth generation, with a history of little or no business disruption to the millions of users that rely on it every day.

More importantly, the changes to the service are subtle and always bring additional value in terms of more productivity and new features that harden security (such as DLP services). But we haven’t seen an architectural change of any significant note since Exchange 2007, which happened three generations ago.

Another good example is the Windows platform. Windows 10 is built on Windows 7 architecture with some new additions to make it more efficient and cloud friendly. But it is stable and will work straight away and most services that run on Windows 7 can be migrated across with little or no difficulty.

Some organisations may still have legacy apps to run but the reality is that we could find alternative ways to deliver these apps. The cost of one person owning that project would be far less expensive than a dedicated support contract from Microsoft directly.

While the dominant thinking might be to save money now, the longer you leave a problem the bigger it becomes. It’s an important life lesson and one that also applies in business. The path of most resistance is often the most valuable one long term and by taking the decision to migrate away from a platform now, those long term benefits will far outweigh the difficulties of the journey getting there.

At MJ Flood Technology we have developed a structured methodology for helping clients to migrate. Our four-step plan is a successful and proven blueprint to mitigate migration risks and ensure a smooth migration that avoids costly business disruption and lost productivity.

Many of our clients have taken this approach when moving to the cloud. By ensuring that they are now working from ‘evergreen’ software, they enjoy huge value from IT and have tightly aligned it with business strategy.

It might sound obvious but many organisations fail to follow this simple approach and the business benefits are very tangible.


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