On July 14, 2015, Microsoft will end official support for Windows Server 2003. If your company chooses to continue using Windows Server 2003 past that date, you’ll be faced with either a very risky or a very costly decision:

  • Run critical software that will never again have security updates.
  • Pay an exorbitant amount for custom support, starting at an estimated $600 per server, per year anddoubling every year thereafter.

As of last year, Microsoft reported that 24 million instances of Windows Server 2003 are still being used throughout the world. Because of its wide use, “The retirement of support for Windows Server 2003 will be one of the most important of the predictable security issues of 2015.”

Microsoft itself suggests:

If you are still running Windows Server 2003 in your datacenter, you need to take steps now to plan and execute a migration strategy to protect your infrastructure. By migrating to Windows Server 2012 R2, Microsoft Azure or Office 365, you can achieve concrete benefits, including improved performance, reduced maintenance requirements, and increased agility and speed of response to the business (emphasis added).

If your company has relied upon Windows Server 2003, what’s your game plan going forward? Are you prepared to upgrade and migrate your Windows Server 2003 physical and/or virtual servers without severely affecting your day-to-day business?

Just a Simple Upgrade, Right?

Dozens of challenging problems present themselves when considering how best to upgrade from Windows Server 2003 to Windows Server 2012. To make matters worse, many IT departments may not be fully aware of how many problematic issues could likely arise during this process.

  1. Many of today’s businesses rely on Windows Server 2003 to host many of their applications, some of which are critical to their everyday business needs.
  2. A simple, direct upgrade cannot be accomplished. Workloads must be transferred from old servers to new.
  3. Applications that have been running on Windows Server 2003 for more than a decade may not even run on Windows Server 2012. Additionally, a company’s current IT department may have scant knowledge of outdated apps that have been running on WS 2003.
  4. Current IT staff may be unfamiliar with the 2012 interface, as it’s drastically different from its Win2K3 counterpart.
  5. A company’s current hardware infrastructure may not be able to host Windows Server 2012. Additionally, most 2003 deployments were 32-bit. All 2012 deployments are 64-bit.
  6. Certain features in Windows Server 2003 have been deprecated. If apps rely upon those features for full functionality, they will not work with Windows Server 2012.

The crux of the matter is aptly summarized at WindowsITPro.com:

You only realize that something won’t work after you’ve migrated. A workload you expected to work on Server 2012 R2 simply doesn’t, and rather than being able to roll back and find a solution with time to spare, you have a ‘Wile E Coyote’ moment as you realize that things are about to go quickly pear-shaped.

In other words, using an accurate test environment will significantly ease the burden of upgrading from Windows Server 2003 to Windows Server 2012. The Kubisys Platform is the solution.

Many Kubisys customers are currently retiring their Windows Server 2003 installations and have cited the Kubisys Platform as the main driver for their upgrades. Because our Platform allows test environments to be quickly and accurately created, these clients can test application migrations to non-Windows Server 2003 servers on a much shorter timeline than alternative test environments. Furthermore, a majority of today’s test environment platforms tend to suffer from configuration drift, which ultimately increases the risk of introducing errors into production. The Kubisys Platform significantly minimizes this risk.

How One Kubisys Client Upgraded from Windows Server 2003 in Less Than Three Months

One of our clients had dozens of Win2K3 systems to upgrade and knew that their Active Directory would likely present the largest challenge. Had they decided to use an alternative test environment solution, they likely would have suffered from:

  • test environments that were limited in scope and incapable of accurately representing today’s complex, interconnected systems.
  • multiple departments requesting their own test environments, causing project conflict.
  • configuration drift, which decreases confidence in whether or not tested changes will work when deployed  into production.

But this client chose to use the Kubisys Platform to capture and test their Windows Server 2003 systems upgrades, as well as fifty other upgrades of mission-critical applications such as their accounting system, UC: Elite Enterprise, and their document management system.

With the Kubisys Platform, this client tested the process of upgrading from Windows Server 2003 to Windows Server 2008. They documented the changes required for their application servers and domain controllers to ensure success. Once the “run books” had been created and signed off, the application team approved the upgrade process to be run on their production servers.

In less than three months and with zero production downtime, they captured, tested and successfully deployed their Windows Server 2003 upgrades, including their domain controllers and dozens of other critical applications.

Don’t risk your company’s security or financial health by continuing to run outdated and unsupported software. Contact us at info@kubisys.com to schedule a free demo to experience how our unique test environment creation tool can help ensure your next successful upgrade from Windows Server 2003.

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