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Windows Server 2003 End of Life Poses Hurdles for Businesses

By Nathan Eddy (Send Email)
Posted March 23, 2015

Sixty-one percent of companies have at least one instance of Windows Server 2003 running within their environment, representing millions of installations across both physical and virtualized infrastructures, according to a recent survey of 1,300 business and IT professionals conducted by Spiceworks.

According to the survey results, companies are allocating an average of $60,000 for use in migration-related projects.

That adds up to $100 billion in spending on migration-related spending on technology, including new hardware, software, cloud-based solutions, and associated services, Spiceworks said.

"After July 14, 2015, Microsoft will no longer release patches for WS2003, essentially leaving the OS defenseless against new threats – and hackers are well aware of this," Peter Tsai, IT content manager at Spiceworks, told eWEEK. "Companies that use WS2003 after the deadline need to know that the bad guys will stockpile exploits that will be unleashed after the end of life date. Being in a vulnerable state with your sensitive information is not a good place for a company to be."

The survey found a majority of IT professionals have started the migration process in advance of the July 14 deadline.

Fifteen percent of respondents have fully migrated their environment while 48 percent have partially migrated and 28 percent remain in the planning stages.

Eight percent of IT professionals have no plans to migrate at all, and of those who plan to keep Windows Server 2003 after end of life, 85 percent cited concerns with security vulnerability, 72 percent were concerned with software compatibility, and 66 percent cited concerns with compliance risks.

Fifty-six percent of respondents indicated they are moving to the latest version of Windows Server. Of these respondents, 39 percent said they are doing so for software standardization and ease of management;37 percent said they already own Windows Server 2012 licenses, 37 percent cited features and functionality, and 36 percent are seeking additional virtualization capabilities.

Seventy-four percent of IT professionals who are either fully, partially, or planning to migrate, plan to move applications currently running on Windows Server 2003 to a virtualized environment.

Of those, 34 percent plan to move applications from a physical to a new virtual environment while 31 percent will be moving applications from a physical to an existing virtualized server.

Nearly a quarter (23 percent) plan to move their applications from an existing virtualized server to another existing virtualized server, and 22 percent plan to move applications from an existing virtualized server to a new virtualized server.

Respondents also cited plans to purchase hardware and software as part of the migration process.

Thirty percent of respondents plan to purchase new physical servers and operating systems, and 16 percent plan to purchase standalone server software for existing hardware. Only 12 percent of respondents plan to move to a cloud-based or hosted solution.

Twenty-two percent of IT professionals said they don’t plan to upgrade every system currently running Windows Server 2003, and those who are not planning to fully migrate their environment cite lack of time and budget constraints as key barriers to full migration.

"While the real solution is to migrate away from Windows Server 2003, the big takeaway for holdouts is to prepare as much as possible so they’re not scrambling at the last minute to protect their network," Tsai said.

Originally published on eWeek.
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