To put things in perspective, Windows 2003 servers will not suddenly stop working – but there will be an impact on your business:
- Microsoft will stop providing security updates, which will make servers become more vulnerable to security exploits;
- You won’t be able to install some newer applications (or at least they won’t be supported);
- Microsoft won’t be able to help resolve those ‘bizarre’ problems that happen from time to time.
Can your business afford to take the risk of security being compromised or an application going offline if support is not available?
Withdrawal of support for a product provides a good opportunity to stand still for a moment and consider your options such as:
- Will you go straight to Windows Server 2012 R2 or upgrade more gradually via 2008 R2?
- Perhaps you’ll move to Linux?
- Will you move to cloud?
- Will you need to update applications and tools?
Whichever direction you choose, you will probably want to spin up one or more parallel copies of your platforms for testing. Cloud platforms, such as Node4’s N4cloud are a natural fit here, because you can pay for a block of server resource just for the duration of your testing, and switch off the cost after you are finished.
Here are a few tips of things to consider when doing your transition project:
- Use virtual machine snapshots for easy rollback to a previous point in time after testing something that didn’t work as expected;
- Create a network that spans colocation hardware and cloud and use it to take a copy of production data to make testing more realistic;
- Virtualise any physical servers where possible for greater agility and resilience- physical to virtual (P2V) conversion software has matured;
- Consider using Puppet or Chef to define and enforce standardisation in the configuration of your platforms, reducing the risk of issues caused by misconfiguration;
- Consider whether to deploy a new backup or disaster recovery solution at the same time as upgrading your systems. The Node4 ‘IT Infrastructure Report 2015’ reveals that 70% of UK SMEs could not survive for more than 24 hours without their critical IT infrastructure.
With the right approach, the end of Windows Server 2003 need not be a cause for panic. Instead, it can drive evolution and growth in your business. Start your journey as soon as possible.
Node4 can help your business embrace the journey beyond Windows Server 2003 by providing colocation, cloud, backup and disaster recovery. Talk to us about how these services can fit your migration strategy.
Mark Wilson is a technology fanatic who works for Node4. He is focused on helping our Customers benefit from innovation and new technology. With a mix of technical and commercial expertise, he has developed innovative IT services for major global outsourcers, midmarket service providers and SME businesses, and is one of just over 1000 IT evangelists recognised worldwide in 2014 and 2015 as a VMware vExpert. Follow him on twitter @markwilsontech.