Windows 2003 Server End of Life

Why am I writing an article in 2014 about an Operating System that is almost 12 years old? Because in July 2015, Microsoft will end support for Windows 2003 Server.

What does that mean to you?

Well, if you are a casual user and don’t have anything important on your Windows 2003 Server box, then it will just mean that you will no longer receive patches, updates, and security fixes from Microsoft. If you choose to be OK with that, then you don’t have to do anything at all.

If you are a business user, or if you happen to have some sensitive data or applications running on your Windows 2003 Server, you need to take action. You have several choices:

  1. You can do nothing and risk the compromise of your Server, your data, and your applications.
  2. You can contact Microsoft about a Custom Support Agreement (CSA) – they will charge you a fairly significant, recurring fee for this, and they will also require you to show them a plan to migrate away from Windows 2003 Server.
  3. You can migrate your Windows 2003 Server to Windows 2008 Server or Windows 2012 Server – you will need to test any of the applications that are on your Windows 2003 Server boxes to ensure they are compatible with the destination Operating System. You should also know that there is no direct path from Windows 2003 Server to Windows 2012 Server. You should also be aware of any dependencies that exist between your applications and any services that are running in your environment (SMTP, DNS, DHCP, etc.) and ensure that you are grouping the servers so that you don’t break an application when its host server moves.
  4. You can make a strategic and longer-term decision to migrate your old services and applications to a Public / Private (Hybrid) Cloud solution – this enables many efficiencies, including on-demand service and application delivery, on-demand server delivery, near-instant deployment and recovery of test and development resources, configuration control, reduced data center footprint, and more. Even though this choice requires a lot more work and planning up front, the return on investment is significant if done right.

Those are your choices. Now for the real question – do you have the time, capability, and capacity to do what needs to be done by July 2015?