Windows Server 2003 expiration could present more business risk than the end of support for XP did, it is claimed.
With Microsoft’s support for the server set to expire in July 2015, businesses have less than a year to prepare for a migration more time consuming and complex than transitioning off the XP operating system was this April, according to an IT services firm and analyst.
Insight’s David Mayer, practice director for Microsoft solutions, warned that Server 2003 end-of-life would affect 24 million servers used by large and small businesses.
Those include some of Europe, the UK and America’s largest firms and financial institutions, added MSMD Advisors analyst Mike Davis.
He said: "2003 migration is a bigger deal than XP. If XP is the peripheral veins then 2003 is the heart."
Mayer added:"When Microsoft ended support for Windows XP in April, about one quarter of US businesses were still using the operating system, which caused a series of operational issues and potential security challenges.
"While XP was primarily a desktop issue, we’re advising our clients that Server 2003 end of service affects entire servers, with the potential to have widespread impact on many more business operations."
XP retained significant market share for desktop operating systems months after support for it expired in April, with various experts warning of security issues due to the lack of Microsoft patches.
Insight claims 39% of all Microsoft servers run the Server 2003 OS, for which 37 critical updates were released last year.
Threats to data centres running the software are expected to increase, outlined Insight, with higher costs for more advanced firewalls and network segmentation.
Those dealing in sensitive data that fail to migrate before July 2015 could face penalties for a lack of regulatory compliance.
Mayer called on firms to find out what software and applications run on Server 2003 instances, and either upgrading to cloud or buying new hardware to support Server 2012.
But he warned: "Whether the businesses we work with choose to replace servers, upgrade software or migrate to the cloud there are critical decisions to be made that could take a good part of the coming year to address."
MSMD’s Davis said that what he has seen in working as a consultant for large UK and European firms this last year has shocked him.
"I was shocked and scared at the dependency they have on Server 2003 without even necessarily having a migration plan," he said.
HP hopes to take advantage of Server 2003 expiration with its new range of Gen9 ProLiant servers.
Angela Cross, UK & Ireland manager for servers and software, told CBR: "We see loads of opportunity. A lot of our customers,whether they meant to have it or not, they probably still have 2003 running somewhere. Probably some of them have a larger problem than others but all of them have something they need to change."
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