The day has come. Microsoft's Windows Server 2003 has reached its end-of-life today, July 14. Essentially, businesses still running the operating system are left to fend for themselves against undiscovered vulnerabilities and threats to their data, unless they spend a considerable amount of money to contract with the Redmond, Wash., software giant for custom support services.
"It's hard to believe that, after 12 great years, Windows Server 2003 extended support ends today," wrote Microsoft's Server and Cloud Platform team in a reminder posted to the company's Server and Cloud Blog. "Over the last year, many customers have prepared and planned their migrations and have migrated to a modern infrastructure."
Companies that have somehow missed Microsoft's yearlong outreach effort now face an uncertain data security landscape. Some may even learn that their systems have fallen out of compliance, endangering their ability to legally conduct business, warned Microsoft.
"If you are still running Windows Server 2003 in your datacenter after today, you could face security risks and potential compliance violations," cautioned the company. "If you have not yet begun your migration, we encourage you to do so, not only to protect your servers with continued security updates and patches from Microsoft, but to gain efficiencies across your business, reduce the burden on your IT and leverage modern cloud technologies and applications to boost agility."
Nick East, CEO of Zynstra, a provider of hybrid cloud appliances, echoed the sentiment. "The Windows Server 2003 end-of-support deadline presents an opportunity for organizations to refine their IT strategy," he told eWEEK in an email statement.
In recent years, Microsoft has championed a cloud-enabled approach to IT that balances the cost-savings benefits of public cloud infrastructures with an organization's on-premises security, processing and data accessibility requirements.
Windows Server 2012 was dubbed the "Cloud OS" by the company during its launch, due in large part to its built-in virtualization and cloud computing capabilities. Earlier this month, the company released an Operations Management Suite add-on for its System Center data center management software that bridges the gap between local and cloud-based server and workload management.
East believes laggards should follow Microsoft's cloud-centric product strategy and consider a hybrid approach as they rush to migrate from Windows Server 2003.
"Ideally, they will adopt hybrid IT to take advantage of the performance and control of on-premises IT as well as the cost and scalability benefits of the cloud," East said. "Provided as a service, the hybrid IT model takes these benefits one step further, offering it as a subscription-based model with no capital expenditure and no management required."
In fact, a cloud-backed solution may be the only economical choice for those organizations that are heavily invested in the OS, concluded East. "Hybrid IT-as-a-Service may well be the best option for organizations faced with a complete infrastructure refresh in the wake of the [Windows Server 2003] end of life."