Windows Server 2003: one week until end of support


Microsoft will end support for Windows Server 2003 on 14 July, leaving companies who are yet to migrate vulnerable to unpatched bugs.

In a situation reminiscent of the end of Windows XP support, approximately 60 per cent of UK organisations were still running Windows Server 2003 at the beginning of June, according to the Cloud Industry Forum (CIF).

This has led to warnings that without a clear and prompt migration plan, businesses are putting their IT systems at risk of attack from cyber criminals.

With the release of the next version of Windows Server delayed until 2016, companies are left with the immediate options of upgrading to Server 2008 or Server 2012.

While mainstream support for Windows Server 2008 ended in January this year, extended support is available until 2020. Mainstream support for Server 2012, meanwhile, runs until 2018 and extended support continues until 2023.

Slow migration from Windows Server 2003 has been blamed variously on a sentiment of "if it aint broke, don't fix it" and cautious IT managers.

David Troeger of Dell told Channelnomics: "Customers are very complacent; so as long as it works, there's no need to fix it. I know for a fact that customers are hesitant to move away from it."

"In a lot of cases the admins are not even clear on what applications are running on the servers themselves," he added, which can make migration harder as well.

Help! I'm still on Windows Server 2003 - what should I do?

If you are still using Windows Server 2003, there are plenty of options available, from simply refreshing software to switching platforms, or even moving to the cloud.

Microsoft's Assessment and Planning Toolkit is a good place to start on this journey, and can help you decide what is the best way to move forward and how to go about it.

You could also bring in a consultancy - while this may cost more than doing it yourself, it could save on staff resources and could prove particularly helpful to SMBs lacking their own IT departments.

It can also be helpful to realise migration, while it should start now, does not have to be done all in one go.

"Migration away from the decade-old operating system doesn't have to be as painful as many may think," said Nick East, CEO of Zynstra. "It's important to understand that although organisations need to act now, they don't have to change everything all at once. This IT refresh can be an evolution, rather than a revolution - so there's no need to lose your head."

Jane McCallion
Deputy Editor

Jane McCallion is ITPro's deputy editor, specializing in cloud computing, cyber security, data centers and enterprise IT infrastructure. Before becoming Deputy Editor, she held the role of Features Editor, managing a pool of freelance and internal writers, while continuing to specialise in enterprise IT infrastructure, and business strategy.

Prior to joining ITPro, Jane was a freelance business journalist writing as both Jane McCallion and Jane Bordenave for titles such as European CEO, World Finance, and Business Excellence Magazine.