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End of Life for Windows 2003 Server – What Now for Businesses?

by | Sep 22, 2015 | IT Security, News

The constant evolution of technology and software is a given, and often happens at a rate that is difficult for most people to keep up with – staying on top of countless new developments can be exhausting! Unfortunately, the development of new software often means that the support for older versions is abandoned. This is the case for Microsoft. The software giant recently launched Windows 10, their newest desktop operating system (OS). Windows 10 is estimated to be on a billion devices within two to three years! This big push toward their new OS means that support for their older server, Windows 2003, will be left lacking.

The termination of this support is worrying news for the 61% of businesses who still run Windows 2003 as of March of this year – the transition between servers is not always a simple task. Many businesses have effectively buried their heads in the sand about this topic, most likely intimidated by the huge financial cost and the large time investment required for a smooth transition to the Windows Server 2012.

It isn’t just small businesses that are affected by the sudden termination of support for older servers: in 2014, the UK government was forced to spend £5.5 million to prolong the support of Windows XP on their computer systems, as their IT department had not been prepared to make the update on all of their computers before the deadline. Unfortunately, some companies just don’t have this large amount of available funds, and yet according to research by NetMarketShare, almost 25% of PCs still run unsupported programmes, and this means that data on these devices are at risk!

This reduction in support for Windows 2003 has been a long time coming, and although security updates for the server only ceased in 2014, mainstream support was actually cut off back in 2010. In theory, this means that businesses have had plenty of time to make the transition to a more recent server, but in practice only two thirds of businesses have done so. The rest seem to be planning to run the older server even without support, meaning that alternative solutions to protect against data loss must be found- and fast!

As failing to patch weaknesses or holes in your IT security system is incredibly risky and could mean ICO fines, many businesses are developing their own applications to protect their data. This means that they can avoid licensing fees while gaining access to a security measure that is completely relevant to their specific needs. This do-it-yourself approach is an alternative to moving from Windows to the cloud, and may be preferable to an upgrade from one Windows server to another, as this can carry compatibility and integration issues.

However, a full migration to the cloud, whether it be to a newer Windows server, may not be necessary. Often an interim solution can work very well and can help avoid any migration issues. A combination of cloud management and migration technologies can be effective, especially when additional firewalls are used to protect any potential vulnerabilities in the security system.

If your business is one of the 11 million Windows Server 2003 servers that are still running, it is vital that you find a solution to protect your sensitive data as soon as possible. The financial aspect may be daunting, but does not come close to the cost of a data loss fatality. Take action now – failure to do so could be disastrous.

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