Dell: For Windows Server 2003, the end is closer than you'd think

Next July, Microsoft will cease supporting Windows Server 2003, giving businesses a chance to modernize their IT architecture

Administrators who spent time this year retiring their last computers running Microsoft Windows XP might have another migration task ahead -- Microsoft is set to retire its Windows Server 2003 operating system next July.

The good news is that in many cases the necessity of a server software upgrade will also give organizations the opportunity to modernize overall architecture, said Michael Tweedle, Dell executive director of Windows management, during a discussion on the subject Wednesday in New York.

"We see the end of Windows Server 2003 as a driver leading to broader projects," Tweedle said. "There is a lot of Microsoft technology that organizations want to move to, but they need to clean up the underlying infrastructure to properly do that."

Microsoft's exact cutoff date for supporting Windows Server 2003 is July 14, 2005, which gives administrators 223 days to update any remaining machines running the operating system for servers. This is not actually a lot of time, given the potential complexities of an upgrade to Windows Server 2008 or Windows Server 2012, or to move a workload to the cloud, agreed the round table's participants.

Last year, Microsoft exerted considerable effort in getting people to upgrade or otherwise retire Windows XP. Not supporting an OS means that the Microsoft will no longer send out patches to fix recently discovered vulnerabilities, leaving those machines still running the OS open to attackers who could use these vulnerabilities to take control of the machines and use them to purloin sensitive information and access any connected IT infrastructure. Microsoft has estimated that there may be between as many as 20 million copies of Windows Server 2003 are still running.

Beyond the obvious security vulnerabilities, the upgrade will also help organizations update their architecture to better fit in with today's IT ecosystem, the participants said.

Many of the best practices Microsoft put in place with the release of Windows Server 2003 no longer are applicable, Tweedle noted. For instance, each branch office probably doesn't need its own Active Directory domain server. Active Directory keeps track of an organization's user and group accounts, and is a core component to Windows Server. Today even the average branch office has so much more bandwidth than it did a decade ago, so that it now makes sense for an organization to centralize Active Directory and have the branch office access these services remotely.

Moreover, the newer versions of Windows Server, especially Windows Server 2012, are far better equipped to get organizations on the cloud, Tweedle said. The OS and supporting tools provide specific connection points to the Microsoft Azure and Office365 cloud services.

The newest Windows Server also supports newer Microsoft enterprise technologies such as the Lync communications software and the Microsoft Hyper-V hypervisor for virtualizing workloads so they can be moved to the cloud, or used as part of a private or hybrid cloud architecture, said Mark Linton, Microsoft senior director of portfolio and product management.

In addition to upgrading the infrastructure, organizations must also confront the challenge of updating the applications that run on these servers. In particular, Windows 2003 was a 32-bit OS, meaning that any applications that need to be carried forward must be checked to see if they can run in the 64-bit environment of the newer Windows Servers. For commercially supported software, this isn't so much of a problem, but it can be an issue for home-grown applications. Microsoft itself offers an assessment toolkit to help determine the amount of work that needs to be done, and Dell offers the ChangeBase software to pinpoint compatibility issues.

"We see a lot of organizations looking at their legacy applications and asking if they want to still run them on prem, or if they can be run in the cloud," Tweedle said.

Many organizations that are migrating from Windows Server 2003 are indeed using the opportunity to modernize other aspects of their operations as well, agreed Alan West, President and CEO of XMS Solutions, a Dell channel partner specializing in migration services.

For instance, XMS was contacted by a Midwestern U.S. health care firm to help update two machines running Windows Server 2003, which it inherited when it acquired another company. When XMS started looking at the company's infrastructure, it had found that the organization was also managing 8,000 workstations controlled by legacy Novell servers. The upgrade also provided the opportunity for the organization to move these users over to the newer Active Directory registry, and move users from Novell's GroupWise collaboration software to Office365, West said.

"Basically, what started as a relatively small migration has turned to into a fantastic opportunity for the health care institute to join us in the 21st century," West said.

Joab Jackson covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Joab on Twitter at @Joab_Jackson. Joab's e-mail address is Joab_Jackson@idg.com

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags DellMicrosoftwindows serverWindowssoftwareoperating systems

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Joab Jackson

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Matthew Stivala

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

The HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer is a great device that fits perfectly into my fast paced and mobile lifestyle. My first impression of the printer itself was how incredibly compact and sleek the device was.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?