Like Windows XP, Server 2003 was one of those ole' faithful systems that just ran great. Chances are you may even have a server in your office running Server 2003 and you don't even know it because you don't have to mess with it. But alas, the powers that be at Microsoft have decreed that July 2015 is the "End of Life" for Server 2003.
So what does End of Life mean?
It means that Microsoft will no longer provide support or security updates for Server 2003 starting in July. Your server will continue to run like it always has, just without the most recent updates.
So what does that have to do with you and your faithful server?
Really, two main things:
1. Security. As certain viruses and security vulnerabilities are discovered, Microsoft will release updates to it's Windows operating systems to protect them in the form of Windows Updates. But starting in July, Server 2003 won't be getting those anymore. For some, this is just a security risk. For others, that are regulated by governing parties like HIPAA or ALTA, you could be in legal trouble for running Server 2003 after July.
2. Scalability. If you just use your Server 2003 server to share files, then after July it's going to keep on sharing files like it used to. If you use your server to share a CRM database or Quickbooks and you want to update to the newest version, then you won't be able to put it on your old server. New server software won't be compatible with Server 2003, mostly for the reasons listed above for security and these tech companies don't want to be liable
So what are my options then?
1. Upgrade. If you have a lot of specific needs that are being met by your server, then you probably just need to bite the bullet and get a Server 2012 server. And that is going to be a full overhaul, new hardware and everything. But if your business runs off this server, then it will be worth it
2. Go to "the Cloud". A lot of services are now available on the Cloud for a monthly subscription. For cost purposes, it's usually very affordable until you get to a certain number of users. Some people also understand that "the Cloud" is fancy terms for "my data on someone elses stuff" and have trust issues with that. Both of those points are valid and worth considering which is why the Cloud isn't a good choice for everyone.
3. Server alternatives. I see a lot of folks get ready to throw down several thousand on a file server that's going to serve 5 people in an office and have only 20 GB of data on it. I then recommend a network hard drive instead and save them a bundle. There's tons of alternate solutions to a server, depending on your need and situation.
Should I be scared?
No, but you should be informed. And I love informing people. Let me know if I can help.
Tim Dixon is the owner of Solve IT Security.