Cloud ComputingIt’s almost October, and if you are still running Windows Server 2003, you could be in big trouble. Months ago (in July) Microsoft officially stopped supporting Windows Server 2003. Even though for months prior to this end-date Microsoft warned businesses to migrate to a newer platform, many didn’t heed the advice. Continuing to run Microsoft Windows Server 2003 is risky on multiple levels.

First of all, it means you are running your business applications on unsecured software. Microsoft no longer supports security upgrades or patches, so continuing to run Server 2003 means you are putting your business applications and data at risk. Not to mention that continued use of Windows Server 2003 goes against compliance standards and industry regulations, and can get your company into serious trouble.

For those still running Server 2003, moving to the cloud might be the best option. Here are some common thoughts about moving to the cloud, and some facts on why it may be the best option to move away from Server 2003.

“A Server 2003 Migration Is Too Time-Consuming”

We admit, migrating Windows Server 2003 to either a newer version of the operating system or to the cloud isn’t something that can be completed in a matter of hours. There is an immense amount of planning involved for migrating away from Server 2003. In addition to creating the plan, the execution can take a few days, to a few months (depending on the size and scope of your IT infrastructure). However, it’s something that needs to be done. What you can do to reduce interruptions in business flow is to migrate Windows Server 2003 to the cloud. Once the instance is set up in the cloud, you can slowly migrate to a newer platform without interrupting day-to-day operations as 2003 continues to run as a virtual instance in the cloud.

 “But We Need To Run 32-Bit Programs”

Some cloud platforms offer 32-bit instances for users who need to migrate 32-bit applications from on-premise to the cloud. Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) for example, offers 32-bit instances that users can set with Windows Server 2003 or Server 2008 Amazon Machine Images. This option allows users to continue to run their 32-bit apps while sorting out how to fully migrate applications and data way from Server 2003 to the latest instance (either Windows Server 2012 R2 or the soon-to-be released Server 2016).

An added benefit of EC2 is that it has support for in-place upgrades from older instances of Windows Server such as 2003 or 2008 to the latest available version. This way you can create a two-step process for cloud migration. First you can move your current server operating system to the cloud, to keep critical applications running. The once migrated, you can upgrade to the latest, most secure version of the Windows Server operating system.

“Our Servers Are Running Just Fine”

Outside of the software aspect, many businesses that work off of Windows Server 2003 are using the server operating system on physical servers – some of which have been around for years. Physical servers break down over time, so attempting to run Windows Server 2003 much longer means running business processes on physical servers that are essentially ticking time bombs. Don’t play Russian roulette with your servers. Move to the cloud ahead of time, before your physical servers have a chance to die on you (in the middle of business operations).