Predators Circle as Withdrawal of Support for Windows Server 2003 Leaves IT Managers Exposed

Insight identifies five key areas of contention and the power struggles faced by IT departments as many firms look set to miss July’s deadline

March 2nd – Insight UK, a leading worldwide technology provider of hardware, software and service solutions, has identified five key power struggles waiting to happen as enterprises and public sector organisations see support for Windows Server 2003 disappear in just 134 days.

On July 14th Microsoft will no longer re-enforce its Windows 2003 fortress with upgrades and will cease helping users sustain its defence. The day on which support is officially withdrawn also happens to be Bastille Day, the anniversary of the beginning of the French revolution, when a new social order was imposed in France.

Indeed, Bastille Day is likely to see the beginning of the end for the old order in many enterprise and public sector IT environments, as organisations either migrate successfully to the cloud or new hardware, become embroiled in problems, or stay and attempt to deal with the potential invasion of malware. With the deadline looming, there is a feeling many organisations have left things too late and will now miss July’s deadline.

As Takeshi Numoto, Corporate Vice President, Cloud and Enterprise Marketing, Microsoft, warned last month, “If you are still running Windows Server 2003, I want to remind you that now is the time to migrate” before adding, “even a single unpatched server can be a point of vulnerability for your entire infrastructure.”

Around 24 million servers in organisations, from small enterprises to global corporations, could be affected by the withdrawal of support from Microsoft. According to the vendor’s estimates, around 39% of all installed Microsoft Server operating systems are Windows 2003, requiring constant fine-tuning and patching. In 2014, some 20 critical updates were required. However, with new physical servers (Windows Server 2012) and cloud-based replacements (Azure) available, Microsoft has called time on the old guard.

Yet though Microsoft has offered support in the shape of its Azure Data Centre Migration system (which helps large users move from physical servers to the cloud) many end users have left the migration too late and now face a series of problems.

As such, Insight has identified five key problems that end users can expect in the coming four months. The type of regime that will remain depends on the nature of current IT bosses and their strategy for protecting assets.

Short-term administrations: One of the common failures identified is a creation of short-term fixes in response to a lack of time to prepare. Some server upgrade projects could take an estimated 18-months, but just over four remain.

As a consequence, compromises may be made on planning and assessment, and upgrade migrations could be based on false assumptions. Without proper due diligence the extent of the server environment and criticality of applications are likely to be under estimated, resulting in instability and disruption.

Compromised Coalitions: These are caused by the impact of unexpected consequences leading to short-term patches, which in turn lead to power struggles. The failure to understand the impact of Windows Server changes – on both users and the organisation – will create unforeseen circumstances. Resources will need to be allocated for migration for which no provisions have been made and this may cause friction between departments and staff.

Regime Change and Artificial Barriers: The inconsistencies and lack of co-existence between old and new servers will create conflict. Interoperability between users, directories and security settings will create flashpoints over the network and resources.

Weak New Administrations: A lack of data protection means that migration to a new system will inevitably lead to loss of data assets. In moving from one territory to another the IT regime could come under attack and suffer heavy setbacks, sometimes fatally. Lack of time to prepare means many businesses will fail to back up comprehensively before they begin their journey.

Ungovernable New Environments: These are caused by an inability to settle in the new administration. Whenever a new regime is established, there are new foundations to establish, new ground rules to create and new connections to be made. Sadly, many organisations will fail to optimise their new environment having rushed their preparations. Neglect to prepare a migration and you should prepare to deal with failing administration.

“Many organisations will already be executing on their Windows 2003 migration plans, but for those that haven’t there is still help available,” says Emma de Sousa, UK Managing Director, Insight. “You need to plan your journey, marshall your resources and get up to strength. And most importantly of all, find a good partner who has made this journey before. At Insight we have migration experts who’ll quickly help you identify what you need to do and why. Panic is not an option.”

If you have any questions about Windows 2003 migration and are still unsure about what steps to take, insight has a team of specialists on hand to assist you and your organisation: