Windows Server 2003 for Small Business: End of Life or New Beginning?

Make the Most of Your Migration

Stacy Cote

Windows Server 2003‘s support lifecycle will absolutely end on July 14, 2015. You can look at this with wide, anime eyes and wonder what in the world to do next – or you can focus on the opportunity this brings to the table for you and your customers as a small business owner.

First, let’s look at the positives. Okay, there’s a lot of good that Windows Server 2003 for small and medium business has done for us, but it was created in 2003 – 12 years ago – and if we liken the pace of technology to dog years, that’s 84 years of progress. As a blog post by Jeff Stoffel points out, in 2003, “Virtualization was a science project being used in test labs. There was no hardware support for virtualization, and “Clouds were described as cumulus, stratus, cirrus, and nimbus, not public, private and hybrid.” In other words, whatever system you choose to go with as you move on from Windows 2003 will definitely have a broader and more modern tech vocabulary from which to work.

Thus, there’s a lot of opportunity for new and better programs to emerge – whether you choose to add on to an existing system, or segue into a brand new server that meets your needs. You can do it, and maybe even do it better. Stoffel uses a graphic to express four basic steps in packing up and moving forward without your trusty Windows 2003 Server.

First, he says, “Discover: Catalog your software and workloads.” Figure out what you have now. Note necessary file storage needs, capacity, and figure in future needs as much as possible. As Stoffel writes, in 2003, “Hard drives were measured in megabytes.” They’re not anymore, and they don’t have to be, either.

Second, “Assess: Categorize applications and workloads.” Organize what you’ve got. Put those looming files and applications with no real home into labeled folders. Determine what your project calendar looks like right now and in the next year or better to weigh workloads into the equation. Go back to the first step to make sure you’re aware of capacity needs now and later.

Third, “Target: Identify your destination.” Where are you going to utilize all of these applications? What destination will hold all your workloads? You can always call in assistance for this part – tech-savvy vendors and IT teams will likely be chomping at the bit to help you figure out your destination. Cost will be a consideration, of course, but there’s no reason to think that it should be overwhelming, as there will be competition for your business. Zynstra’s chief executive, Nick East, estimates that in the UK alone, over a quarter of a million businesses are still running one of the Windows Server 2003 platforms.

Fourth, “Migrate: Make the Move.” This is the moment of truth, of course – migrating all your hard-earned Windows Server 2003 blood, sweat and tears onto a new server. But have faith – if you went through the first three steps, and you’ve incorporated some fantastic new technology options, you are looking forward, and moving your organization to the next level. That’s a good thing.