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Server 2003 – you’ve served us well but now its time to leave


Posted on 9 March 2015

July 14th 2015 is the end of an era. Like its little brother XP the time has come for this ancient OS to hang up its CPUs and retire.

From its release date on April 24th, 2003 to July 14th 2015 a whopping 4465 days in service, quite possibly keeping your system running day in day out 24/7. Receiving emails, spooling print jobs, serving your files, managing your active directory security.

This product has already been replaced multiple times, Windows Server 2003r2, 2008, 2008r2, 2012 and 2012r2.

There are still an estimated 400k 2003 servers operating in the UK (Kunert, 2015)

So what happens when support from Microsoft ends?

Your server will not turn off or stop working

I think this is a valid point to make. Your server will continue to operate, for as long as the hardware on which it is based also continues to function. Your users will still be able to access the files they require. But please don’t let it keep working! The key point here is your hardware is also likely to be 11 years old. More than likely have no hardware support either the combination is a disaster waiting to happen which however long it lasts will be costing your business.

No Further Microsoft Support

Generally if there is a problem with your servers, out Microsoft Certified Professionals have enough experience and knowledge to be able to fix your issues. But the odd bug in the software occurs and we rely on our Microsoft support we are provided with as part of being Microsoft Gold Competency Partners to fix server issues. When 2003 is out of support that will not be available to ourselves or anyone.

No Application Provider Support

We’ve already seen this happening, application providers build their applications in line with support schedules from Microsoft. If Microsoft don’t support the platform they can’t get bug fix support for their software. If they can’t get any support they need to move to the latest OS so they can continue to provide your application. For most application providers an 11-year-old application is probably already past its rational support life!

What are my options?

The world has changed it is not the same world as it world as it was in 2003 or 2008, ‘Clouds’ have arrived, storage has been virtualised, Facebook, Google is now not just search, Microsoft Azure and Office 365.  Your options have never been more open!

Replace Physical Server

The most basic option of all is to replace your 2003 file, email and print server with 2012. Boom, problem sorted. Or is it? 

Small Business Server is no longer in the Microsoft Product line up, which means facing the full cost of Microsoft Exchange licenses and the server resources on which to run Exchange.

Hybrid Cloud

The replacement solution is Microsoft Server Essentials and Office 365 linked by some very tidy applications on the on premise server. This leaves your files, print and possily applications on the ground and email in the cloud, in whats called a Hybrid Cloud configuration.

Hosted Desktop

You could go full cloud with a server hosted at the Infuse Tech Datacentres or Microsoft Azure, we would recommend a stable none ADSL internet connection for this path so that needs to be added to the monthly cost of your hosted desktop. Costs can look high but generally its a subcription based service so costs can be bundle into other services. e.g. Getting your telephony from Infuse Technology along with your hosted desktop and managed support package, costs can be reduced. 

True Cloud

Why have a 'server' at all? you could go straight SharePoint Online for files and Exchange Online for Email, throw in some remote desktop apps for your ERP system and you can work from any device at anytime from anywhere. SharePoint Online and OneDrive now offer 1TB per user of storage space and the next iteration is said to be limitless. Again a stable internet connection is useful but not 100% required.

A true 'Cloud' solution.

Whatever your answer you need to be thinking about doing something, #thedatesnotmoving

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