Window of opportunity closing for Kiwi businesses as Microsoft EOS nears

"Holding out on the migration from Windows Server 2003 may cost much more in the long run.”

Microsoft New Zealand is reminding its Kiwi customers that time is nearly up for organisations still running Windows Server 2003, with just three weeks till the end of support deadline on 14 July 2015.

Frazer Scott, Marketing and Operations Director for Microsoft New Zealand, says companies still using Windows Server 2003 after the end of support deadline will be particularly vulnerable to threats as no new security patches will be made available.

“It can typically take around 200 days to make a standard server migration, so with 21 days left before the deadline, this is especially critical given the fast-paced evolution of security threats,” Scott says.

“While upgrading servers takes time and money, holding out on the migration from Windows Server 2003 may cost much more in the long run.”

According to Spiceworks - a global professional network of more than five million IT professionals - 60 per cent of organisations that use Spiceworks’ tools in New Zealand are still running at least one instance of Windows Server 2003 as of May/June 2015.

Scott says this represents a six per cent drop in usage since June 2014.

“Microsoft New Zealand has been communicating with our customers about the impending deadline for Windows Server 2003 end-of-support for a long time, and working with our partners to educate users about the process of migration,” Scott adds.

“If they have not already, IT leaders and business owners need to move quickly to protect the applications and information residing on old servers.

“The July deadline represents an opportunity to future-proof your business and realise the benefits of moving to modern platforms like Windows Server 2012 that is also built to allow a simple move to the cloud.”

For businesses that will not be able to migrate their old servers ahead of the looming deadline, Scott recommends the following steps for safe-guarding their IT environment after the July 14 deadline, until their migration is complete:

• Reach out to your Windows Server 2003 hardware and software vendors for advice.

“The operating system is just one part of the total solution, so you may find that the hardware and software installed on it may also be unsupported after the end-of-support deadline,” Scott adds.

"Knowing this in advance will mean your vendors will then be able to provide additional options for mitigating risk.”

• Ensure that you are running the very latest release of Windows Server 2003 (R2) and that you install the final security patch that comes through prior to July 14.

• Minimise the risk of a security breach by keeping your Windows Server 2003 server ‘off the grid’ on a closed network – not connected to the internet – until migration is complete.

• Ensure your network firewall and anti-malware definitions are regularly patched and updated.

• As a last resort for businesses that are not able to upgrade in time, Microsoft is offering Custom Support Agreements for receiving ongoing patch and update support for aging WS2003 servers.

"Talk to your Microsoft Representative / Partner to see if this is the right solution for you," Scott adds.

Scott notes that while these steps will not provide businesses with a permanent safe haven, they can buy some time.

IDC research on 88 companies in Asia that have deployed Windows Server 2012 or the R2 version, shows upgrading resulted in clear increases in productivity and automation, and enabled IT to reduce man-hours by an average of 20 – 30 hours per month.

According to Svott, companies looking to migrate can also refer to Microsoft resources, including:

1. Windows Server 2003 end of support website which provides customers with guidance for the entire migration process along with information about the services and tools available from assessment and training, through to comprehensive platform migration services and risk management.

2. A Migration Planning Assistant is also available to help organisations analyse their Windows Server 2003 workloads and generate a summary report showing recommendations and Microsoft partner offerings.

3. Many Microsoft NZ partners already have new services in place to help expedite the migration process. Larger enterprise customers who may need more time to finish migration may also explore custom support agreements with Microsoft during their transition period.

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