Large Companies Struggle to Migrate from Windows Server 2003

The latest research from the Cloud Industry Forum (CIF) indicates that while small businesses have been steadily migrating away from Windows Server 2003, larger enterprises, in spite of the Tuesday 14th July deadline, have been staying put. For Outsourcery, a founding member of CIF, the figures lay bare the difficulties a significant proportion of mid to large-sized businesses have in unpicking and moving away from legacy technology solutions.

The research, which was conducted by Vanson Bourne on behalf of CIF, surveyed 250 UK IT decision-makers about their use of cloud services and how they fit within the broader IT estate. A quarter of organisations with fewer than 20 employees have upgraded from WS2003 in the past year – from 58 per cent in 2014 to 44 per cent usage in 2015. This is in stark contrast to larger enterprises, where use of WS2003 has remained almost static. 51 per cent of organisations with 21-200 employees and 72 per cent with more than 200 staff are still reliant on WS2003, despite the lack of support leaving organisations susceptible to potential vulnerabilities.

Commenting on the findings, Jon Seddon, Head of Product at Outsourcery, said: “IT projects inevitably involve a degree of complexity, but when we consider how integral Windows Server 2003 has been to businesses’ IT for the past decade, and the layers that have built up on the operating system during that time, the task of moving away from it can be a daunting one. This complexity tends to ratchet up in line with the size of a business, so it’s somewhat understandable that the proportion of larger organisations still using Windows Server 2003 hasn’t shown much movement in the run up to the end of support deadline. But doing nothing is clearly not an option and those still using the operating system past this week’s 14th July deadline face significant risks to the security of their data, their productivity and the ability to remain competitive.

“Complicated or not, it’s critical that those businesses still using Windows Server 2003 work out an action plan now and call upon experienced advisers who can support them through this transition. With the right suppliers in place, the task of migration whilst potentially complex, should not be prohibitively so. Change is coming and businesses that continue to sweep the death of WS2003 under the carpet in the hope that everything will work out will find themselves vulnerable.

“However, Cloud Services Providers also need to show businesses that they can be trusted with a company’s private data. They have a responsibility to demonstrate transparency, so that businesses migrating to the cloud can do so efficiently and confidently,” Seddon concluded.

Alex Hilton, CEO of CIF, added: “After July 14th, with Microsoft no longer issuing security updates for Windows Server 2003 there will be potential risk to customers who have not upgraded. Cloud services now represent a viable short-term fix for many customers who lack the in-house resources.

“The end-of-life of older operating systems and solutions such as Windows Server 2003 and Microsoft’s Small Business Server has created a new imperative and a new opportunity to look to cloud-based alternatives. While many businesses will undertake a rudimentary incremental upgrade and others will take the opportunity to refine their IT strategy, a far simpler and easier option would be to embrace the chance to move the infrastructure workloads to cloud services. The coming months represent a great opportunity for customers to make a cloud migration and adopt the latest enterprise-ready technology in a cost effective manner.” Hilton summarised.

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David Dungay

Editor - Comms Business Magazine