In just about a month, Microsoft will stop support for Windows Server 2003 on July . The bad news is that many businesses are still running the server operating system, which means that they are scrambling to find alternative solutions. The good news is that there are a few different options that businesses can choose from to transition away from Windows Server 2003.
Unfortunately migrating to Windows Server 2016 isn’t currently an option. Although Windows Server 2016 is the newest iteration of Microsoft’s server operating system, it is currently only available as a technical preview. The official release isn’t due until sometime in 2016. If companies are interested in making the switch in the future, installing the technical preview on a test server would be a great option to get used to the new version. However, businesses should not wait until 2016 for the release as it would mean running Windows Server 2003 for six months or longer without technical support.
With 2016 not an option, we have put together 3 alternatives to Windows Server 2003.
Windows Server 2012 R2
Windows Server 2012 R2 is the most recent official release of Microsoft Windows Server. Although it was made public in September of 2012 (almost 3 years ago), most businesses remained with 2003 because it was such a stable release. The good news is that Windows Server 2012 R2 has mainstream support until January 2018 and extended support until January 2023 according to the Microsoft Support Lifecycle website. So even if you upgrade to Windows Server 2012 and 2016 becomes available within a few months, you’ll still have years of support behind your investment. Plus you won’t be putting your business at risk by continuing to run Windows Server 2003 after its support ends in July.
A benefit of switching over to Microsoft Azure is that it is cloud technology that serves as both Platform as a Service (PaaS) and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS). Azure not only provides cloud storage but it provides businesses with cloud computing/processing power, a platform to launch websites, enterprise content management, and Blob storage for remote access to data and files. Transitioning to Azure does mean learning a new system, but if you are looking to expand your IT infrastructure anyway – Azure may be the way to go!
Microsoft Office 365
Windows Server 2012 R2 has support for optional integration with cloud applications. However, if you are looking to move everything to the cloud, then moving from Server 2003 to Microsoft Office 365 may be the best bet. Unlike moving to Azure, Office 365 has a very familiar interface and does not require a large learning curve once all of the files have been migrated from on-premise to the cloud. Office 365 comes with Exchange Online which is great for companies who want to implement BYOD and telecommuting policies as users can access email from anywhere via the cloud. Not to mention that Office 365 has a plethora of new features including Skype for Business and on-demand licenses for the entire Microsoft Office suite!