Microsoft wants you to update your servers…or else

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The doomsday clock is ticking for Windows Server 2003. Microsoft will no longer support the enterprise server operating system as of July 14, 2015 and many companies are unprepared.

With less than 100 days until the deadline, it’s becoming vital for companies to put together a migration plan and switch over to Microsoft’s cloud-based platform, Azure. The lack of support means the platform will no longer receive patches and security upgrades, so it won’t be safe for companies to use the old technology. That’s especially important for companies that store sensitive information on their servers, like payment info and social insurance numbers.

In Canada there are over 380,000 servers still running on 2003, and that makes up for around 40 percent of Microsoft’s client base in this county. In the U.S., there are 9 million servers on Windows Server 2003.

According to a survey done by Bit9, 57 percent of the American companies don’t even know a deadline is looming, and 14 percent don’t have a migration plan in place.

Since 2013, Microsoft has been sending out the message that it’s ending support, so it makes one wonder why many companies are unprepared. It seems that many of them are putting it off and waiting until the last minute much like what happened when Microsoft ended support for Windows XP last year.

What will happen to the lazy?

There are a number of consequences to not upgrading to the new platform. First, having an out-of-date operating system leaves a company vulnerable to hackers and cyber attacks. Hackers compile lists of vulnerabilities in a system and wait for an opportune time to exploit them. The upcoming deadline could be the perfect time for these malicious users to launch an attack and seriously compromise a company’s data security.

Using an outdated system also means that a company will no longer be PCI compliant. Not only does that mean that Visa and MasterCard will no longer do business that that company, but it can also result in heavy fines.

Migrating to Azure will provide companies with cloud and mobile capabilities that they need to stay compliant in today’s marketplace. Trying to offer the same type of support on Windows Server 2003 is impractical, so it’s in every company’s best interest to upgrade. Even still, migration is no small task. Bit9 estimates that it could take at least 200 days for a company to fully migrate.

It might come with a significant cost, but upgrading to the new cloud-capable operating system is essential. The longer companies put it off, the more they will be putting themselves in jeopardy by sticking with an outdated technology.

Photo via Flickr Creative Commons

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