Time is Running Out – Microsoft Windows Server 2003 Support Ended July 14 If your machines are still running WS2003, migrate now to avoid harmful security risks.

Windows Server 2003 support ended Tuesday, July 14. What does this mean for you? If you operate one or more of the estimated 61 percent of servers still running Windows Server 2003, your servers and connected PCs will be subject to harmful viruses, spyware, and other malicious software. Technical support will no longer be available from Microsoft. Software and security updates will not be provided. New threats won’t be addressed and your Windows Server 2003 systems will become a security risk and a compliance nightmare.

Microsoft warns of these specific outcomes:
• NO UPDATES OR PATCHES- Microsoft will no longer develop or release any updates or patches after ending support. To put this in perspective, consider that 37 critical updates were released in 2013 for Windows Server 2003/R2 under extended support. Imagine what impact zero updates will have on your infrastructure after end of support.
• NO SAVINGS- The costs of maintaining your legacy servers can add up quickly, including: maintenance costs for aging hardware and added costs for intrusion detection systems, more advanced firewalls, and network segmentation. Staying put will likely cost more in the end.
• NO COMPLIANCE- After support ends, your organization will likely fail to meet most industry-wide compliance standards and regulations. This could result in lost business, or dramatically increase the cost of doing business in the form of high transaction fees and penalties.
• NO TECHNICAL SUPPORT- Without continued support from Microsoft, your virtualized and physical instances of Windows Server 2003/R2 will not pass a compliance audit. Microsoft Small Business Server 2003 will also be affected.

Rest assured that if you currently have an up-to-date antivirus product, a solid, working backup solution, and a server monitoring service, you will still be partially protected after the deadline. However, the operating system is now very old, and most software vendors are completely dropping support.

Such software, including Intuit QuickBooks, Adobe Acrobat, Microsoft Great Plains, Sage Accounting, Oracle Java, and many others have already begun to drop support for Windows Server 2003. This means that the next time you need an upgrade for your line of business software, you will be forced to upgrade to a new operating system.

Antivirus vendors, after the typical one year window, will also drop support for Windows Server 2003. No antivirus signature updates will be performed during this time. Once the July deadline occurs, hackers will be honing in on Windows Server 2003 for vulnerabilities, which could leave your business network vulnerable to Cryptowall, Trojan Viruses, and full on hacking where your server is taken over by a malicious third party user, locking you out of your own systems.

Do bear in mind that the hardware the server is currently running on is beginning to age as well. Windows Server 2003 was released over 10 years ago, and server hardware has drastically changed since then. This is a huge concern for your business. With the operating system no longer being supported, the hardware will most likely fail. The age of most systems running Windows Server 2003 are 6 to 8 years old, and finding replacement parts is becoming increasingly difficult.

Fortunately, you still have time to take the steps to plan and execute a migration strategy to protect your infrastructure. This will include upgrading your server software and perhaps embracing Cloud technologies to achieve concrete benefits such as improved performance, reduced maintenance requirements, and increased speed. Continue to safeguard your business and your customers and plan a migration strategy.

Van Heath, the IT Operations Manager at Speros, manages virtual servers for an in-house cloud management solution, upgrades and maintains multiple end-user databases, serves as the primary disaster recovery engineer, and oversees all project deployments. Speros provides technology solutions for businesses, offering telephone systems, IT services, surveillance systems, web design and branding solutions, and cloud computing. For more information, visit speros.com, call 912-354-8900 or email info@speros.com.

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