The end of support (EOS) for the Windows Server 2003 OS will occur July 14, 2015. Over a decade has passed since the release of Windows Server 2003, and it’s testament to the stability of the OS that a large number of companies continue to run critical applications and workloads on it. After July 14th security updates will cease and any company continuing to run Windows Server 2003, will face an ever increasing number of compliance issues and vulnerabilities. With this in mind, the first thing you ask is whether you upgrade to Windows 2008 R2 or go directly to Windows 2012 R2. However, the only reason you should even consider going to Windows 2008 R2 is if there is a special software or technical reason to be doing so. You are going to face the same challenges in the process and there are only a handful of instances where Windows 2008 R2 will work and Windows 2012 R2 will not. Meanwhile, Windows 2012 R2 is leaps and bounds ahead of Windows 2008 R2 in terms of performance, stability and features. There are several things to consider as you plan your migration: Should I upgrade my hardware? Moving to Windows Server 2012 R2 may indeed require new hardware. You should start with a baseline of at least eight cores, 8 GB of RAM, and 50GB of disk space. Should I move towards virtualization? You should move towards virtualization whenever possible. The most obvious reasons are efficiency and savings. A company that had been in the habit of using one server per operating system (OS) might have a lot of space devoted to rack after rack of machines. They take up space; they use power, and they generate heat, which in turn imposes costs on the HVAC. For such pedestrian reason, it is best of one of these machines can be employed to do the work of several, hosting various OSs. Can you consolidate? Next you should consider whether or not you can consolidate applications or services. Fewer servers lower your footprint and will decrease the technical time and resources it takes to manage those servers. How do I migrate my applications? Microsoft recommends four steps in migrating from Windows Server 2003
- Discover the environment
Microsoft recommends you use the Microsoft Assessment and Planning Toolkit (http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=7826). This tool will determine what applications you have on the system that cannot be moved to Windows 2012 R2.
- Assess workloads
Next you should put those applications into categories based on the type, complexity and importance of the application.
- Pinpointing where to move the applications
Where to move the applications is an important question, you may want to consider moving some applications to the cloud while keeping some on premise.
Lastly create a migration plan utilizing the Microsoft Deployment Toolkit. (https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/dn475741.aspx) In the end, you may feel this migration has been somewhat forced, it’s undeniably an advantageous move. The Windows 2012 R2 operating system has numerous advantages over the aging Windows 2003 Server family, particularly in the areas of Hyper-V and clustering. This tool will not only enhance performance but bring cost savings and is optimized for future growth and creating new business opportunities.