Easing Windows Server 2003 Migration Headaches

Here we go again—another blog about Windows Server 2003. The twelve-year-old server operating system has probably had more air time in the past year than it has across its entire lifespan. It’s fair to say that all businesses should now be aware that end of life for Windows Server 2003 is rapidly approaching.

If you still want to run that operating system with support after July 14, 2015, you’re going to need to shell out serious money to acquire a Custom Support Agreement (CSA) from Microsoft. But wait—before Microsoft will sell you a CSA, you must have identified a plan to move your workloads, services, and applications off your Windows Server 2003 platforms. Right away, IT and business leaders are asking:

  1. Do we really know how many Windows Server 2003 instances we’re running and who owns them?
  2. Is each one of those instances hosting various applications, each with varying levels of criticality to our business?
  3. Will our team be able to dedicate time to identifying these nuances, let alone formulate a plan and move off them while mitigating further CSA cost?

How are we going to address this challenge? That light at the end of the tunnel that you see doesn’t have to be a freight train. You can choose a team of professionals to handle the heavy lifting for you. My colleague, Sam Cavaliere, wrote a great blog that describes our methodology in the assessment phase of EMC’s Microsoft Windows Server 2003 offering.

In my experience as a consultant, most businesses are caught off guard by what is found during the discovery phase in a replatforming project—often very different from what they have documented and inventoried. This not only includes itemizing a count of servers and applications, but also to what extent they integrate and communicate with other supporting applications. Missing a dependency can be catastrophic during a technical project, whether it’s a migration or a replatforming initiative.

Seek to understand before seeking to be understood.

Beyond the tactical act of acquiring the technical data and checking it twice, most companies want greater value from a consultant—someone who understands their business. Coordinating an effort as distributed and large as this can be, understanding the impact to each business unit is crucial to maintaining the stability of the business and mitigating risk. This is why we validate our discovered data with stakeholders from each business group.

What’s next?

Now is the time to take stock of all your options. The Windows Server 2003 EOL challenge can be the driver you need to modernize your infrastructure, particularly with EMC’s Enterprise Hybrid Cloud. Think how much easier it would be if, instead of having to build out new servers each time you needed to move a workload, you simply requested via a service portal, thereby shrinking the process from weeks to minutes! Not to mention, starting off fresh with a newly built infrastructure and accurate configuration management database (CMDB). Sign me up!

Being an optimist at heart,I see this scenario as the opportunity to improve. From the discovery stage of our Server 2003 Services offering, to the execution, and to future-state infrastructure, it all leads towards modernizing your environment, enabling performance in business units, and cutting costs by removing legacy systems.

I could go on, but instead I recommend that you read a blog where my colleague, Matt Liebowitz, articulates exactly how businesses can use this opportunity to make a profound impact and increase their agility as they solve the Windows Server 2003 end-of-life problem.

About the Author: Joe Terrell