Windows Server 2003, our favourite server operating system is coming to the end of its very fruitful and productive life. It has one of, if not the, most successful Microsoft OS at launch and is reflected in the fact that an estimated 85% of businesses have at least one Windows Server 2003 machine.

The official end of life happens on 14th of July 2015 and that will most definitely be that. Microsoft have said that unlike Windows XP, there will be no last minute reprieve or security updates, no malware updates and no further support whatsoever. They are keen for customers to move on and draw a line under Windows Server 2003.

Many migrations are already underway, but hundreds of businesses have yet to start or even start planning. July is only four months away, so there isn’t long to get a project up and running! Fork in the road

There are two main options that businesses seem to be exploring when migrating away from Windows Server 2003. The first, is a direct upgrade to Windows Server 2012, the current and currently most stable server OS. There are the usual hardware requirement hoops to jump through, but a direct upgrade is possible for newer servers.

The second road that many businesses seem to be exploring is virtualisation. A number of our own clients have been looking at virtualising multiple servers on a Windows Server 2012 machine. This allows you to run all the same apps and software you used to have dedicated servers for on a single, more powerful server.

This has several benefits. You still get all the same software you need to get the job done but it costs you much less to do it. A successful virtual server can do the work of several older machines while offering lower CAPEX expenditure and running costs.

A recent survey by Spiceworks, an American network provider, said three quarters of their clients were looking at virtualisation as a way of lowering costs and streamlining while still providing the infrastructure they needed.

On a practical level, it is much easier to secure, manage and back up a single server running virtual machines than it is to manage multiple servers. While it doesn’t yet spell the end of the server room for larger enterprises, virtualisation has real benefits for small to medium-sized businesses.

As business IT specialists, Excalibur has to agree that this is the perfect time to consider virtualisation. Companies have no choice but to migrate away from Windows Server 2003 as the security implications of using an insecure network are just too severe to consider otherwise.

The business benefits are clear and we have the knowledge and expertise to manage such a project. If you’re looking at virtualisation but don’t know where to start, call Excalibur today. We can help.

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