Indulge me with a trip down memory lane.  Let’s go back to 2003.  What a great year. Apple introduced iTunes, American Idol debuted on television and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers won the Super Bowl.  In addition, Wikipedia was launched, the idea of Myspace (remember that) was born on a whiteboard and Mark Zuckerberg (creator of Facebook) entered Harvard – all in 2003.

On April 24, 2003, Microsoft released Windows Server 2003.  It has been supported for the last 11 years.  However, on July 14, 2015, Microsoft will cease creating updates, service patches, phone support and web support for the venerable operating system.

According to Microsoft estimates, there are close to 12 million machines in production still running the OS, now over a decade old.

Based on conversations with customers, we estimate that 60 percent of businesses do not yet have a full migration plan for Windows Server 2003.  How do these statistics measure compare to your organization?

Areas of Focus

There are three main areas to focus on for Windows Server 2003 retirement:

  1. Windows Server 2003 Active Directory Domain Controllers- This is a very well documented upgrade process, relatively non-complex but possibly time intensive – depending on the quantity.
  2. SQL Servers residing on Windows Server 2003- Again this is a fairly well documented upgrade process. It can be more complex than domain controllers and equally, if not more, time consuming.
  3. Applications- This is where things can get complex very quickly, especially if the application was developed in house, the original developer has been acquired or is out of business.  Another complexity is that often these applications are line of business or provide services to line-of-business applications.

Steps to Take

So what’s an IT person to do if they have been tasked with upgrading their organization’s Windows Server 2003 operating systems?  The first step is to take an accurate inventory of servers.  Next, the list of 2003 servers needs to be rationalized.  This involves researching the documented upgrade path for each of the applications.

Then, categorize the applications by those which have documented path, those that can use middleware to be upgraded and, finally, those without documented upgrade path or middleware. Once rationalized, you can then begin to create your migration plan.

If you don’t have the time or resources to dedicate to a project like this, please consider outsourcing.  Our Software Services team offers a service engagement tailored specifically for Windows Server 2003 upgrade planning and migration.  We recently worked with a manufacturing customer in the Midwest on a migration plan for 177 servers.

Either way, we hope this post helps and we wish the best of luck in upgrading your Windows 2003 servers.