Ryan Bowles

What the End of Life for Windows Server 2003 means for the Small Business

Windows Server 2003 and its subsequent versions was a great buy back in its day, especially for the Small Business.  It gave small businesses access to IT functionality typically reserved for their larger medium to enterprise counterparts.  Many business took it a step further and invested in the “All-in-one” Small Business Server and took advantage of bundled services of Email, Database Services, Web Servers, and File Share all in one box.  Several of these servers remain in production today for a multitude of reasons whether it is the business owner trying to make the most of their original capital investment, or based on the simple fact that a new solution was never “needed”.  However, as the old saying goes all good things must come to an end.

On July 14th, 2015 Microsoft is officially ending all support for Windows Server 2003.  While the Operating System itself will continue to run, all updates, security patches, and technical support will cease to exist.  This means that there will be an enormous amount of business critical data that is no longer protected by even the most basic means.  In today’s world, nobody needs to be reminded of the importance of cyber security as hacks have remained in the news from Target, Apple, and Sony.  While major technology upgrades may have been delayed in the past, this news is something the Small Business Owner simply cannot ignore.  Even though most businesses have planned for the End of Life announcement for quite some time, there is still time to protect your business.

The good news is there are multiple ways to move away from Windows Server 2003 that will fit your specific business needs and budget.  The most natural transition is to the latest version of the OS in Windows Server 2012 R2.  Although there is a capital expense in purchasing new hardware, 2012 R2 provides your business an affordable option to begin Virtualizing your servers.  A Virtualized Server Environment provides many benefits in long term hardware cost savings, overall performance and productivity, as well improving Data Backup and Disaster Recovery.  Another way small businesses are moving from the aging Servers is to the Cloud.  Over the past 10 year the Cloud has become one of technologies biggest buzz words from everyone to the general consumer to CEOs of the top businesses in the world.  One of the easiest transitions into the cloud is email, particularly if you are currently on the Small Business Server.  Unfortunately there is no All-in-One direct replacement to the Windows Server 2003 SBS, however many cloud options help ease that transition.  Whether you go to Microsoft’s Office 365 or another Hosted Exchange email platform, moving email outside of your businesses’ facility (aka the cloud) can be a great option.  Utilizing any cloud services formally run on premises provides little to no capital expense, relieves the burden of managing the application, and ensures that you will never again be faced with hardware going out of support.

While the End of Life date is looming, it is not too late to start formalizing a plan.  While technology upgrades can be painful, the wide range of options available and the risk of doing nothing should make the transition from Windows 2003 almost a no brainer.

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