Windows Server 2003 has now been around for 11 years. It is the server equivalent of Windows XP, for which Microsoft ended support earlier this year in April.
Official support from Microsoft ended four years ago, however, the product is still on "extended support" which will end in July 2015. This means that official patches, security updates and fixes from Microsoft will stop and new vulnerabilities will not be addressed. This will make any server on Windows Server 2003 a huge security risk for your business. According to HP, who produce more servers than anyone else, there are around 2.7 million servers still running Windows Server 2003.
If you want to continue running Windows Server 2003 past its end of life, it could be very expensive to adequately monitor and shield your vulnerable servers from attack, not to mention risky. Any flaws or bugs in Windows Server 2003 that are uncovered after extended support ends could be exploited by cyber criminals to gain access to your servers, steal data and cause general disruption.
As well as becoming a security risk for your business, if you continue to utilise a Windows Server 2003 environment after July 14th 2015, you risk violating PCI Compliance rules if your business operates in a regulated industry. It may also mean that companies like Visa and Mastercard refuse to allow transactions from your company due to security risks.
What steps can you take if your business is running Windows 2003 servers?
If you are running Windows Server 2003 on any of your servers, you should immediately start planning for a migration to a more modern server environment. Server migrations are not simple procedures that can be done overnight. For large businesses with complex technical infrastructure, upgrading servers may need to be planned well in advance and takes over six months on average. It's much more than simply installing a new operating system.
Windows Server 2012 is a good option which would provide multiple benefits over 2003, including the ability to run a virtualised server. Virtualisation means that you can split your server to perform multiple different functions on the same piece of hardware. With a virtualised server environment, one piece of hardware can do the job of your four or five separate servers. This cuts down on under-utilisation, saves you money on hardware and running/maintenance costs, and is better for the environment.
Windows Server 2012 is built with the cloud in mind. As Cloud adoption increases further, it is best to opt for Windows Server 2012 in order to future proof your business.
If you need help to discuss your options, it is best to speak to IT Support experts!