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Windows Server 2003 End of Life: Challenge or Opportunity?

Updated: Oct 6, 2022

With Microsoft’s Windows Server 2003 coming to end of life on July 15, 2015, most IT managers are well aware that this presents another significant challenge to their organizations. This is understandable, given that organizations have just been through Windows XP migrations in 2014. The challenge with Windows Server 2003 EOL is significant, and the stakes are high.

Microsoft estimates that there are as many as 22 million instances worldwide where clients are maintaining servers running on Windows 2003. But what may seem like a challenge at first glance could also be an opportunity for IT managers who embrace the change and conduct proper planning and collaboration with their application owners. One lesson learned with Windows XP migrations was the fact that many clients did not have a good understanding of their end user application portfolios or their approach to lifecycle management planning. For instance, I have worked with manufacturing clients where I found undocumented but critical departmental applications that supported quality assurance, logistics, and finance. It was only during discovery with end users that the true application portfolio was revealed.

In many cases, users had procured and installed their own applications through informal channels rather than through their IT departments. Our discovery efforts brought end users and IT together, where they had the opportunity to collaborate and make difficult decisions – sunset unsupported applications, consolidate on standard applications, or upgrade applications that could then be supported on a new OS platform. Smart organizations and IT planners are already getting in front of the Windows Server 2003 EOL challenge.

They’re beginning the process of rationalizing applications as a way to better manage their infrastructure and operating costs. The processes for discovery, categorization, target workload, and migration planning are necessary and will require additional resources – often more than many organizations may have. But the real payback comes from the opportunity to catalog applications, categorize their impact to the organization, and ultimately determine how to best solution those workloads. Organizations that embrace this opportunity will find ways to simplify their application platforms, consolidate infrastructure hosting, and lower support costs. This is why IT managers should have a seat at the table to help their organizations shape application lifecycle management.

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