Larger firms dragging heels on WS2003 migration

The channel needs to focus its efforts helping larger companies migrate from Windows Server 2003 as they are the most likely to have done little about it

The deadline for the end of support for Windows Server 2003 came and went earlier this week and was eclipsed at Microsoft's Worldwide partner Conference with all the talk of the next desktop OS and the plans for the future.

But for those users that are still on the platform the last day of support was on Tuesday (14 July) and they are now in a world where the exposure to vulnerabilities and risks is now increasing.

Although many had embarked on migration plans, with the options of going to Windows Server 2008, 2012 or to a fresh cloud alternative emerging as the main choices, there are still plenty left behind.

For those users still on WS2003 the danger is that those driven by malicious interests will now target a platform that will no longer be patched and protected against the latest threats.

For resellers the need to help customers and work through migration plans will be an on-going issue for the rest of this year and into next. The experiences of previous support terminations shows it can drag on for years getting users to change.

But when it comes to working out which of the user base is likely to need a helping hand the indications from the Cloud Industry Forum are that it is larger firms which are more likely to be the slower moving to a new platform.

According to CIF firms with fewer than 20 employees have been in the vanguard of migrating away from WS2003 in the past year, compared to 72% of those with more than 200 staff still relying on the software.

Last week Camwood released its own predicitions about how many firms would be left unsupported with an expectation that as many as 70% of firms could miss this week's deadline.

Adrian Foxall, CEO of Camwood, said that the end of support had highlighted just how many people were unprepared for a move.

“By failing to make the switch to a newer operating system, whether that’s Server 2008, 2012 or a cloud-based alternative, businesses are also opening themselves up to a number of legal challenges, falling out of compliance and risking potentially hefty fines. At the end of the day, this isn’t just bad IT practice, it’s also bad for business," he said.

The channel has been doing everything it can to highlight the need for users to migrate but there has been a stubborn reluctance by some because of the complications and costs associated with moving to a fresh platform.

Alex Hilton, CEO of CIF, said that there was a potential risk now support had ended and naturally prmpoted using the moment as an opportunity to consider moving to cloud services.

“The end-of-life of older operating systems and solutions such as Windows Server 2003 and Microsoft’s Small Business Server has created a new imperative and a new opportunity to look to cloud-based alternatives. While many businesses will undertake a rudimentary incremental upgrade and others will take the opportunity to refine their IT strategy, a far simpler and easier option would be to embrace the chance to move the infrastructure workloads to cloud services," he said.

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