Windows Server 2003 end of life: 3 Key questions

End of life for the Windows Server 2003 operating system is just around the corner, slated for July 14, 2015. This data center counterpart for Microsoft's seminal personal OS - Windows XP - has be a staple of back end operations across the enterprise and public IT landscapes for more than a decade, but administrators will have to face the facts as the software provider withdraws support and urges tech leaders to turn over a new leaf for their server environments. Where organizations choose go from here will hinge largely upon their unique requirements and workloads.

Regardless of the situation in which IT decision-makers find themselves as they face this EOL deadline - now a mere eight months away - there are a number of factors that must play into the creation of a server support roadmap by the time Microsoft pulls the plug on this version. Here are three key questions to ask as July 2015 draws near:

1. What applications and services rely on Server 2003?
Network infrastructures are more diverse than ever before, and this complexity applies to both hardware and software deployments. Tech leaders need to sift through their data centers and determine exactly which assets rely on Server 2003, and account for these applications and data sets long before support is pulled. “It is critical to perform a network wide discovery effort to find any business applications that still run on Server 2003 and determine the migration path for each application to ensure that support and compliance is maintained”

2. Where will these assets go once the deadline arrives?
A comprehensive account of Server 2003's presence in the network is only a launch pad for the migration process that must follow the software's EOL. This presents a unique opportunity for customers to review their cloud and virtualization strategy and consider moving corporate workloads from server 2003 to the Azure cloud.  By moving workloads to the cloud, companies can save money on purchasing expensive hardware and new Operating System licenses.  Moving business applications to the cloud affords companies business agility for the enterprise, focusing more on the application rather than having to manage the servers.

3. How will IT organizations successfully execute its migration plan?
While direct support from Microsoft can be of use in terms of software procurement and the transition of the provider's own applications, many IT environments are differentiated to the point that specialized guidance will be necessary. Partnering with a dedicated server virtualization vendor can offer massive boosts to the speed and precision of any migration effort.