The end of security updates for Windows Server 2003 offers a good opportunity to plan for the future, to ensure that your servers keep working just as hard for the business as you do.
We heard a lot about the end of support for Windows XP on the desktop, but it’s generally the case of out of sight, out of mind when it comes to back-office business servers. After July 14, Microsoft will no longer issue security updates for any version of Windows Server 2003 – leaving many businesses vulnerable to new threats.
Perhaps you’re using it back-of-house to run critical business servers, perhaps you’re using its front-of-house to run something like Point of Sale terminals. Either way, it’s time to move on.
Mainstream support for Windows Server 2003 ended back in 2010 so you should already be thinking about a smooth migration process. Of course it’s easy for a small business to keep putting issues like server upgrades on the backburner when you’ve always got pressing day-to-day issues to deal with. That’s understandable, but you can’t rush into a server upgrade the day it finally reaches the top of your to-do list.
It takes time to plan and execute a successful server migration, especially if it’s mission-critical for the business. Perhaps you’ve already made the move to Windows Server 2008 or even Windows Server 2012, but it’s still worth planning for the future rather than ignoring your servers for another few years.
Even if you’re not ready to upgrade from Windows Server 2003 right now, it’s important to start planning so you’re ready to roll when the time is right. You need to ensure that the rest of your tech is aligned with your long-term server strategy. For example, you might not want to spend more money on desktop software that ties into backend systems that are already scheduled to get the chop.
Apart from cost, reliance on old software is usually the main reason why businesses put off a server upgrade. The larger the business, the harder it is to wean off older software and backend systems – but eventually you’ll need to make the leap.
It’s worth noting that Windows Server 2008 x86 editions are the last to support 16bit applications, which also impacts on 32bit applications with critical 16bit components.
Mainstream support for Windows Server 2008 has already ended and security updates run out in 2020, which might be over the horizon for consumers but should be on your business’ long-term roadmap.
If legacy application support is the only thing stopping you making the leap from Windows
Server 2003 straight to Windows Server 2012 then you need to weigh up your options. In the long run, is it worth letting that one legacy system hold you back? Does the leap present the opportunity for a wider tech overhaul, or should you wait?
Perhaps it is best to wait, but you need to make an informed decision rather than simply put it in the too hard basket and hope for the best.
The best time for a server upgrade and other technology investments becomes clearer once you’ve mapped out a long-term, business-wide tech strategy. You might also take advantage of the rise in Australia’s small business tax write-off threshold from $1000 to $20,000 – letting you invest in new hardware and get more money back in your next tax return rather than depreciating the asset over several years. Have a chat to your accountant to see if your business is eligible.
Change is never easy, but dealing with the consequences of poor long-term planning can be even harder. A break with the past presents the perfect opportunity for your business to plan for the future.
David Hancock is the founder and managing director of Geeks2U, a national on-site computer repair and support company.