End of Support Windows 2003 – Moving to Azure Cloud

Cloud Computing3 minutes readApr 24th, 2015

Unless you have your head in the sand, I’m sure you’ve heard about the End of Support (EOS) for Windows 2003. As a matter of fact, it is the End of Extended Support, i.e. Microsoft ended the mainstream support in July 2010 and decided to provide extended support until July 14th 2015. Hence, there will be no more extensions and any custom support from Microsoft will be very expensive and hard to get.

So what does EOS mean? As of July 15 this year, Microsoft will no longer issue security updates or patches for Windows 2003, resulting in  NO regulatory compliance and application support. Microsoft will only offer custom support to those customers who have a committed plan to migrate their Windows 2003 servers, but the cost of custom support is steep.

Clearly, the EOS will have consequences for all industries since they have to meet one or many regulatory (PCI, HIPAA, Sarbanes-Oxley, etc.) requirements. Take financial services as an example:  systems running Windows Server 2003 will no longer comply with Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), so major credit card companies may no longer do business with companies using non-compliant systems.

With less than three months to go, companies that haven’t developed migration plans need to recognize the consequences of inaction and start on a course of action immediately.

Companies have the following two options for migrating the applications currently deployed on Windows 2003 servers:

  1. On premise Windows 2012R2
  2. Microsoft Azure cloud

I recommend migrating applications to Azure cloud to achieve the following benefits:

  • No capital expenditures
  • Freedom from patch management
  • Agility, i.e. capability to respond easily to capacity changes
  • Freeing up resources to innovate

The steps to cloud migration are:

  1. Discovery and assessment – Discover the applications, their dependencies and business/technical requirements; assess migration complexity, estimate the effort to develop installation and test documentation and develop a detailed migration plan.
  2. Design – Standardize the software stack, identify VM sizes, create installation and test documentation and develop communications and risk mitigation plans.
  3. Migration – Coordinate with application owners, client infrastructure teams and Change Advisory Board (CAB) to migrate applications per the migration plan developed in step 1. Start with the easy applications and then migrate the complex applications. Most applications can be migrated using tools, reducing the time it takes to migrate and also the potential service impact.

You may find that there are other steps you need to take in your own organization –, e.g., IT operational process optimization, training your resources to manage applications on Azure cloud, and redeploying freed resources to innovation-oriented projects.

Nonetheless, the key point is that you need to start following an orderly roadmap of activity right now and substantially complete your migration before Microsoft pulls the plug on support. Otherwise, you’ll run the risk of walking the IT equivalent of a tightrope without a net. The longer you do, the greater the chance that you’ll experience a mishap with serious, if not catastrophic, consequences for your IT operations and your business.

Depending on the complexity and potential cost of your specific migration, you may want to enlist the support of a professional consultant or systems integrator specializing in Windows 2003 Server migrations. Upfront planning and carefully managed execution are crucial for completing the project on schedule and within budget.

Tags-   Cloud End of support Microsoft Azure Windows 2003