Why do you need to act?
In October, Windows Server 2012 will reach its ‘end of life’ with Microsoft. But what does that mean for those of you still relying on it?
What this means is that Microsoft will no longer provide updates, also known as security patches. Microsoft releases patches and updates to ‘patch’ any security gaps identified by them and prevent hackers from gaining access to your system and data, but also to keep it running reliably. From October 10th, your 2012 Server Operating system becomes a target for hackers looking to exploit this lack of protection.
Microsoft also provides technical support for the operating systems they provide, which allows your IT provider to work with them if you have an issue. Again, after October, they will no longer provide this support for you. This could leave you unsupported in the event of a major issue.
What are your options?
If your Server’s role is to host your emails, manage your files and folders, or control your user profiles and devices (Active Directory or Domain Controller), then your decision is easy. A migration to Microsoft 365 should be contemplated. Microsoft will fulfill those Server roles for one monthly fee per user. For around £20 per person per month, you can get business-class emails, calendars, file sharing, and now also device and user controls.
Moving away from that physical server onto a cloud system removes the upfront hardware and software replacement costs. There are likely to be upfront costs to migrate you to the cloud, but once the migration has been completed the ongoing overhead of supporting on-premise hardware will be removed.
Things worth considering before you make the transition are your internet connection speed and whether you use large multimedia files - videos and CAD etc. Because this is the cloud, your files need to be uploaded and downloaded as you access and edit them, which uses up bandwidth. If you have a slow connection, you may need to upgrade to fibre ethernet or equivalent technology.
If your server is less than 4 years old, then you have a few options to consider. Simply upgrading the operating system is an option, but first, check with the vendor of your software application to see if this or the version you currently have can work on a new operating system. You may have to pay to upgrade your application before it is compatible with a new operating system. Aside from the labour there will be costs for Windows Server Licensing and Clients, so before you make the jump it would be wise to consider 365 adoption.
If your Server is more than 4 years old, then spending money to upgrade the operating system on your aging hardware may seem like a wasted investment considering you are likely to replace it in the next year or so. You could instead put this investment towards the inevitable replacement or cloud migration.
Do you need to have an onsite Server?
This will depend on the application or software you use and whether there is a cloud-ready version that you can migrate to. Most software providers are moving to a Software as a Service (SaaS) model, where they charge monthly to host and maintain the application; you just access it via the web. This is the best option, as it allows you to use software you are used to, removes the costs and risks involved with an onsite Server, and future-proofs you against these kinds of software upgrades being needed in the future. If your vendor doesn't offer a SaaS solution, then it’s likely to become a legacy app. It can be painful to switch a core business system, but don’t let the fear of that disruption hold your business back.
Is doing nothing an option?
At the end of the day, it’s your risk to take. However, it’s not something you should ignore, and hope goes away. The security implications are real and tangible and will only get worse over time. If your business holds cyber insurance or cyber essentials certification, running an unsupported operating system will become a barrier to renewal. To avoid potential security breaches and non-compliance with industry regulations organisations need to secure their data. Breaches can not only be costly but also cause reputational damage to your business.
We are more than happy to offer unbiased advice and guidance.
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