Microsoft is ending support for all versions of Windows Server 2003 on July 14, 2015. This means they will no longer issue security updates or other patches for any version of Windows Server 2003. In July 2014, Microsoft stated that there were still 9.4 million instances of server 2003 running in North America. Since security flaws will no longer be fixed, companies still using this platform will be more susceptible to issues such as computer viruses and other cyber-attacks. Microsoft’s decision has even prompted a response from the Department of Homeland Security, which took the unusual step of issuing an alert in November 2014, warning people about the implications. Here are five things businesses should know if they need to upgrade:
1. Make sure you have upgraded to a newer version of Windows Server. It may sound like a ‘duh’ statement, but as an IT company we are constantly surprised at the number of businesses still running Windows Server 2003. It will become increasingly difficult to find software that can run on the old platform and resources that are willing to support this version of Windows. This includes anti-virus software and other security tools. Newer versions of Windows Server have updated security and usability features, which help reduce your security exposure and increase productivity.
2. Upgrading is a must for businesses under government regulation. If your business has to follow guidelines such as HIPAA, PCI, FINRA, SOX, Dodd-Frank, etc., you have additional incentive to upgrade. If you don’t upgrade you will be at risk of non-compliance, which can lead to fines and/or other regulatory penalties.
3. Server operating system upgrades take longer than desktop upgrades. Server workloads and applications will need to be analyzed to verify compatibility with a newer operating system. Updating the server for a business is significantly different than updating software on your desktop computer.
4. Your upgrade may not be as costly as it sounds. Virtualization and cloud services have the potential to dramatically lower the cost. You should use this opportunity to review current processes handled on your local servers. Some of these processes may be better suited or more cost-effective in a hosted, cloud-based, or virtual environment.
5. Time is running out. We know its tax season, but you owe it to your business to check out your IT infrastructure.
Sawyer Solutions is an IT provider based in Birmingham, AL. Owners Ken Sawyer, MEng, MEd, CISSP, PMP, MCSD, CSM and Benji Sawyer, MSc have more than 60 years of experience in building and managing software and hardware solutions for business.