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Preparing for your Windows Server upgrade

John Abbett, Director of Advanced Technology Services, CentriLogic | June 8, 2015
If you've been clinging to Windows Server 2003 trying to ignore the fact that Microsoft will officially end support July 14, 2015, you're playing with fire.

An application might also require running on a 32-bit version of the software. While both 2008 and 2012 offer 32-bit versions, this will cut performance. We've seen at least one case in which a company had to undergo two upgrades for a particular application from 2003 to 2008 and finally to 2012 because the application vendor was not ready for 2012. Knowing these factors ahead of time makes all the difference as you plan for migration.

4. A positive outcome of being forced into migration (other than getting a better and faster OS) is that it's the perfect time to push for a change in strategy. Most IT organizations will need to replace their hardware to install 2008 or 2012, yet there's also the question of whether your company should continue owning equipment at all. Companies of all sizes and sectors are looking harder at hosted and cloud environments, which reduces daily IT support for standard processes such as server maintenance. For those companies still worried about security and compliance, a co-location arrangement at a nearby data center can reduce some of the risk and cost of maintaining hardware on site. Managed services allows your staff to focus on initiatives that add real value to the business, rather than maintaining systems.

5. For a midsize to large company with dozens of servers and hundreds of applications, sorting out a migration plan can be overwhelming. Here's a simple way to look at it. First, you'll want to move any customer facing apps and public websites, since they present the greatest potential damage to your business if impaired or hacked. Next, begin the process of migrating applications with compatibility problems and which require customization or upgrades, as they'll take the longest time to prepare. In parallel, migrate the easy to move applications. These are the ones which are already primed to run on an upgraded operating system or can be upgraded quickly.

Technically, this is a straightforward process once you tackle all the previous challenges. However, server migration is not just a technical project. You'll need people to help with coordination and communication with the business, project management and support. You'll of course want to test the applications on the new servers before retiring the old ones. Backups are absolutely critical.

What if, despite your best efforts, you find yourself in no man's land, past the deadline, and your environment is still not fully transitioned to the new server platform? To mitigate security and reliability risks, ensure that all applications which are exposed to the Internet are fully encrypted and that all servers are also locked down. You'll need to invest more time monitoring applications that remain on 2003, watching for potential breaches or suspicious behavior.

 

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