After experiencing its golden times, Windows Server 2003 will become End of Life (EOL) on July 14, 2015. With less than 100 days remaining, Microsoft has asked those organizations who are still the running legacy server to upgrade to higher versions. Though it is an expected end of a popular operating system, it has brought numerous business opportunities for system integrators and solution providers.
What does EOL mean?
As already announced in 2013, Microsoft will end support for Windows Server 2003 operating system on July 14, 2015. It simply means that the product will no longer receive security patches that help protect systems from harmful viruses, spyware, and other malicious software. With end of life, there will be no more support for applications or programs, and it will cause noncompliance with existing security and regulatory norms. The IT giant will no longer provide automatic fixes, updates, or online technical assistance.
Implications of non up gradation
Organizations running their systems on the unsupported software will be exposed to cyber security risk and it may lead to loss of confidential data. Users may also encounter problems with software and hardware compatibility. Enterprises that are governed by regulatory obligations may find that they are no longer able to satisfy compliance requirements while running Windows Server 2003.
Cyber security experts have warned that by not migrating to the upgraded platforms, enterprises would compromise their security and it would have perilous effects on the business operations. The Computer Emergency Response Team-India (CERT-In), nodal agency responsible for combating cyber attacks has alerted users of ‘Windows 2003’ to either migrate or apply appropriate security solutions.
“It is recommended that all users and organisations using Windows Server-2003 in their environment should look for software vendors and service providers who offer assistance in migrating from Windows Server-2003 to a supported operating system or a cloud-based service,” the Computer Emergency Response Team-India (CERT-In) said in its latest advisory.
No option but Migrate
With the end of Windows Server 2003, enterprises have an opportunity to modernize their business with Windows Server 2012 and Microsoft Azure for improved productivity and operational efficiency. Highlighting the benefits of latest platforms offered by Microsoft Satabdee Hait, Partner Technical Specialist in Microsoft says that by not migrating companies not only put its security in danger but also miss out some of the wonderful features and offerings.
“If any organization is still running Windows Server 2003 in its data center, they need to take steps to plan and execute a migration strategy to protect its infrastructure. By migrating to Windows Server 2012 R2, Microsoft Azure or Office 365, it can achieve concrete benefits, including improved performance, reduced maintenance requirements, and increased agility and speed of response to the business”, Hait says.
According to Microsoft, Windows Server 2012 is licensed purely on virtualisations or the CPUs. There are 15 top features in Windows Server 2012 not available in Windows Server 2003 and partially available in Windows Server 2008.
Role of SPs and SIs
System integrators and Solution providers play very crucial role in the migration. In fact, they are driving the entire migration process worldwide. Apart from earning revenues from services and expertise they offer, SIs can become critical to guide the organisations in deployment of appropriate IT infrastructure to increase business productivity.
“There are multiple opportunities for solutions providers not only during the migration process but post migration as well. SP will play a critical role to help the client to choose right platform depending upon his set up and the kind of applications he runs. Our expertise will help our clients to take right decisions,” he says.
Suresh Ramani, CMD of Mumbai based Techgyan says that SPs should spend enough time with their clients, understand their needs and accordingly offer best solutions. He says that SMB is the critical area where partners play a vital role in actually taking the enterprises to the new platforms.
“We need to spend enough time and chalk out the plan with best service offerings”, he says.
Managed Services to fetch revenue
Vimesh Avlani, CEO of Graftronics says that Microsoft has provided tools that assist the SIs conduct the migration in orderly manner. He says that there are several associated services that may fetch good revenues for partners and help them to grow their business.
“Partners are best to tell what to move and what not to move and for that they have various tools provided by the company. Partners may make little money on licence but more money on managed services. They can also earn recurring revenue in back up service like Azure back up services”, Avlani says.
“Microsoft has already taken steps to educate people. Now it is a time for partners to translate opportunity into profitability”, he adds.
Arvind Singh, owner of Maxnet Computers says the earnings for SIs starts from installations configurations of applications to consultations and so on. Partners need to demonstrate their expertise by giving best solutions to their clients.
The way ahead
SPs and SIs are the extended arms of any big IT giants to actually take the solutions to the customers. In case of migration from Windows Server 2003, they have got ample opportunities. However, it would be interesting to see how they translate opportunities into profitability and their respective businesses.