What’s after Windows Server 2003

End of MS Server 2003 - Dynamic QuestThe day has come and now gone. On July 14, 2015, Microsoft ended all support for Windows Server 2003. This means that users of Server 2003 now no longer receive patches, no longer expect fixes, and now can watch the queue of server vulnerabilities steadily increase.

If you are still on the unsupported 2003 server, hear this now: continuing to use unsupported software will lead to security risks and weaknesses that can (and likely will) put your organization in peril. So for those still hanging on to 2003, go ahead and brace yourself for this unpleasant truth: if your now — unsupported server is connected to the outside world – or even internally networked to local servers that subsequently are online – then migration to a supported data server is non-negotiable.

Migration can take anywhere from three (3) to eighteen (18) months. And there is no illusion here that this is painless. This is especially true on Microsoft’s side – and it’s one reason why Microsoft announced the Server 2003 End of Support (EoS) as early as April 2013 to give everyone ample time to prepare. And now over two years later, the clock has run out and there is simply no longer a safe way to continue delaying the inevitable.

Consideration: Hardware

First things first. The migration from Windows Server 2003 will likely warrant an initial hardware review. Since you will, in effect, be getting better software, this is also the best time to consider upgrading the boxes that will serve up the new software. So do remember to pay attention to your hardware first as the latest Windows Server versions have hardware requirements, and the old boxes that host your 2003 server are probably well overdue for a refresh.

Additionally, upgrading both hardware and software together is usually more efficient and less costly overall than upgrading either in isolation. And if your budget limits the replacement of the machine as a whole, at least assess the parts most in need of upgrade. Your new hardware should at least meet the system requirements of your migration target, but if you want that extra incentive, here are some benefits you’ll get from upgrading both server and hardware:

  • Extended the lifecycle of your servers
  • Reduced chance of malfunctions and shutdowns
  • Improved processing speed
  • Increased power efficiency
  • New capabilities, enhancements, and features that come along with a software/hardware upgrade

Consideration: Migration Process

There are four essential steps we’ve previously highlighted for tackling the server migration process.


Identify all assets and workloads running on Server 2003. It is very likely that all these assets are still relevant to the company. Determine which applications can be excluded from the list to tidy up your app inventory and decrease the load needed to transfer to the new server. Apps that are outdated, no longer used by the organization (or used by only a few who can do without them), may be excluded from migration or virtualized.


Determine the order in which the assets should be migrated. This can be made easier by categorizing the assets based on specific qualities such as type of workload, importance, complexity, and risk.


Determine onto which supported server you’ll migrate your your assets and workloads. Windows Server 2012 R2 is the optimal choice for Server 2003 since it is the latest in Microsoft’s server series. Do not even bother considering Windows Server 2008. If you want to try something else you can check out Microsoft Azure and Office 365. You can also try System Center 2012 which is a bundle of numerous server management tools by Microsoft. You may also opt to wait for Windows Server 2016 which is scheduled to be released during the last quarter of 2015, but be sure to weigh the risks of waiting that long to start migration.


Create and execute your migration plan. You can perform it yourself, get assistance from a third party, or leave it entirely in the hands of a partner such as your friendly Managed Services Provider (MSP).

Consideration: Cloud

The server migration can also be the perfect opportunity to move to the cloud with either an external or hybrid model. Cloud servers offer a handful of advantages including lower initial costs, room for scaling and customization, increased stability, security, and other efficiencies. A cloud model is often a good fit for small- to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) that use mid-level servers. If this sounds like your company, then a silver lining to the Server 2003 migration is the opportunity to to investigate a cloud model for your infrastructure.

And if you need support getting off of 2003 and onto something better, let us help. Dynamic Quest can provide you various levels of assistance with your migration — from doing the work and consulting, to installation, network configuration and providing new hardware. Let us answer any questions you have and help you think through the steps to move from Windows Server 2003. Simply click the button below to contact us. Our experts aren’t there to hassle and there’s no obligation – though a simple “thank you” is always welcomed by our experts in the field. 🙂

Curious to learn more? Contact your local managed IT service provider?

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