The End (of Support) is Here
As you are hopefully aware, Microsoft’s support has ended for Windows Server 2003, including Windows Server 2003 R2 and Windows Small Business Server (SBS) 2003 on Tuesday, July 14th which means Microsoft will no longer be releasing patches, security updates, other fixes, or providing technical support for these operating systems that have been in use for over a decade and at one point ran the majority of the world’s IT infrastructure.
Winxnet, security experts, and even the Department of Homeland Security recommend that all Windows 2003 Servers should already have been upgraded or replaced. Sometimes there are mission critical applications running on Server 2003 and a newer version support on Server 2008 or 2012 is not available or a clear migration path is not apparent. There may also be applications that are used infrequently or are of little value, but still required. Finally, many organizations may not have the technical resources to plan and implement these types of upgrades. These scenarios need to be carefully discussed between you and your IT partner, and a remediation plan put in place.
A few implications of not upgrading include:
- Security Risks – Patches and updates will no longer be issued so any new vulnerabilities will not be fixed leaving your servers more vulnerable to virus, malware, and direct attacks. On Windows Server 2003’s final day of support Microsoft released 14 patches and 9 of them affected Windows Server 2003. One critical vulnerability, MS15-011 which could allow remote code execution, will remain unpatched for Windows Server 2003.
- Non-Compliance – Staying current with software patches is a key requirement to maintaining compliance with regulations and standards such as HIPAA and PCI. The end of support means it will no longer be possible to stay current and continuing to use Windows Server 2003 will not be an option for businesses that are subject to external audits.
- Unresolved Issues – No matter how determined and dedicated your IT staff may be, the potential that issues and problems will remain unresolved is highly likely. Microsoft will no longer provide troubleshooting or resolution support, therefore issues may not be able to be resolved. It is also very likely that applications and services running on Server 2003 are no longer supported by their vendors creating the potential for extended outages and emergency upgrades.
- Additional Costs – Not upgrading your 2003 servers may cost your organization more time and money in the long run. Potential for additional costs is expected because costs for intrusion detection systems, more advanced firewalls, and network segmentation may be necessary to help keep your organization secure and protected. And as a Wall Street Journal article reported, finding the technology resources to perform the upgrades and migrations to new systems will continue to be more difficult as time goes on.
Upgrading brings multiple benefits including increased security, better performance, active support, and improved compatibility. As always, it is important to remember that one change with your IT system may have an impact on other systems so a thorough review and plan should be part of any upgrade. Always consult with your trusted IT partner when making any technical or software related decisions.
Winxnet has a team of experts who are available to help make sure you understand your options so you can make the right decision about how or if to upgrade your Windows Server 2003 or Windows SBS 2003 servers and the applications running on those servers. Contact us today to speak with our experts and help get your organization started on the right track.