The End is Nigh: Three months until the “death” of Server 2003

We in the IT community are a pessimistic bunch. We have all these amazing technologies at our fingertips – cloud computing, remote working, corporate app stores – and yet all we seem to do, is talk about death.
The “death” of onsite storage, the “death” of Windows XP, and now even the “death” of Server 2003. Death is one of those useful dramatic buzzwords that we in the IT community just can’t help but drop into every headline, blog post and even conversation.
Given this morbid obsession, it seems hardly surprising that we sometimes find ourselves using it in an unjustified or purely hyperbolic way. Very occasionally however, a situation arises where ‘death’ is exactly the word that we need to be using.
Today marks three months until the death of Server 2003, and that is not meant as any kind of dramatic overstatement. Last week Microsoft announced that – unlike previous migrations – it would not be offering any deadline extension for the end of Server 2003. As a result, 14th July will now represent a hard deadline for businesses around the world. Beyond this date there will be no security updates, no compliance, and no technical support for users to turn to. For all intents and purposes, Server 2003 will be a dead OS.
Unfortunately, with 11 millions machines still running Server 2003, this is a going to prove a major problem for businesses all around the world. Of these 11 million machines, 1.6 million are expected to miss the July deadline, opening them up to a whole host of serious compliance and security vulnerabilities. Earlier this month, our CEO Ade Foxall referred to this issue as “the biggest security threat of 2015”, and I couldn’t agree more.
While we in the IT industry may be a bunch of pessimists, we do know a thing or two when it comes to our tech. With three months to go until the death of Server 2003, businesses need to be acting fast in order to shift their systems over to a more sustainable OS (whether Cloud-based or Server 2012 R2).
Now, with no safety net to fall back on, the time for discussion has long since passed. Whether businesses are ready for it not, the end is finally nigh for Server 2003.
To find out more about how to prepare your business for the switch, download our new “Server 2003 is dead” whitepaper report.

Microsoft puts the final nail in XP’s coffin

In one more month, Windows XP will officially be celebrating’s its first full year in retirement. Yes, for almost a whole year now, XP has been shuffling around the IT old folks home, presumably playing bingo with Netscape and winning arm-wrestling contests against its old pal Windows 98.
Yet despite this upcoming anniversary, it remains a worrying fact that more than 15% of the world’s computers continue to run Windows XP as their primary operating system. While it’s fair to assume that a good handful of these machines are being maintained by sentimental (if not unwise) individuals, the fact is that far more are being run as part of a larger enterprise operation. This is a dangerous game for any business to be playing, placing both their security and their customers’ data at risk.
This said however, the majority of enterprises are now paying out for Microsoft’s extended support option – at least until they get their apps migrated to Windows 7, 8 or 10. For the last year this has proved a sensible – if not costly – approach. Still, left with few alternatives, it was a price that most businesses were willing to pay.
Unfortunately however, following rumours from Microsoft last week, it looks like this cost is finally about to outweigh the benefits.
Yes, it appears that XP’s charming retirement home is planning on doubling its fees. According to this report on ComputerWorld, Microsoft is about to increase the cost of its extended support renewal from $200 a device to $400 a device – a staggering increase for any enterprise still hoping to cling to the out-dated OS.
For some in the market, this increase has been viewed as nothing more than a last-ditch attempt for Microsoft to squeeze more money out of the end of XP. Personally, we at Camwood think this is unlikely. If anything, the tech giant is playing a far longer and potentially smarter game.
The truth is that with each passing month Microsoft grows less patient with the ever shrinking community still clinging onto Windows XP. For them, as the number of large enterprise using the OS decreases, the time involved in maintaining post-life support grows increasingly costly – both in terms of development time and developer salaries. As a result, Microsoft is as desperate as anyone to move the remaining 15% away from Windows XP – especially if they can be convinced to switch to a similar Microsoft-based platform such as Windows 7 or 10.
From this perspective, it’s clear that the new pricing strategy is not some sinister ‘money grab’, but rather a forceful incentive for companies to abandon XP. Still, for the 14-year-old operating system that refuses to quit, will this decision prove the final nail in the coffin? Or is there still life in the OS yet? Only time will tell.

Windows Server 2003 Migration

Overview
  On July 14th 2015 Microsoft will be ending support for the Windows Server 2003 operating system, which means the service will no longer freely receive:
 
  • Security patches
  • Assisted technical support
  • Software and content updates
  Computer systems running on this software from this point onwards will be exposed to an elevated risk of cyber-security dangers, such as viruses, spyware and other malicious software. Users will also experience difficulties with compatibility to new software and hardware.
  There are approximately 24 million of these servers still in action across Europe, with nearly 8 million currently running in the UK. It is important for companies still on these servers to recognise the necessary steps that migration will take or the potential risks if a migration is not completed. Estimations are that one in five businesses will miss the deadline this July and continue to run decade old operating systems. 
  The potential benefits of upgrading from Windows Server 2003 are considerable, as it is possible to run applications on 64-bit servers or even potentially move them to the Cloud, taking advantage of the flexibility and cost-savings to be found there.
  Migration
  With interruption of business and a shift of data to more current systems, some companies are reluctant to changeover servers.  However maintaining a system that no longer has free support is costly and in the long term will financially tip in favour of an update.
  Migration can typically run anywhere between nine to fifteen months – from researching to upgrading, testing and eventual rollout. As many legacy applications may have been developed in house and as a result do not have source media available or have poorly documented configuration information – migration is difficult.
  The benefits of new servers (such as the Windows Server 2012 R2) will be immediately apparent to any business, such as improved performance, reduced maintenance requirements, and increased agility/response to the business. There are far more tools available such as new forms of integrated virtualization, better security, extensive scalability, new operational roles and far more.
  It is important to begin the process now as companies will need to answer key questions regarding server changes, such as what applications will be compatible on the new systems.
How can Camwood help?
  Camwood has over 15 years experience of migrating applications and can save a typical company over 60% of the time and effort typically associated with this type of server changeover. By putting forward the key application related questions, organisations can more accurately scope, plan and de-risk their exits from the Server 2003.
  We offer a pre-sales workshop where the relevance and potential impact of the changeover is highlighted, followed by a bespoke engagement where the estimations on time, resources and budget for your organisation will be made. 
  One possibility to take into account when tackling the transition from Windows Server 2003 is Cloud migration, a viable option for a number of reasons.
Cloud Servers
A Cloud migration allows your organisation to manage its current portfolio with ease and get rid of any applications that no longer serve a purpose.
  It offers the chance to design applications in the style that your organisation uses them by utilising the way in which the Cloud is structured, thus creating a better user experience.
  Moving to the Cloud not only offers business benefits but guarantees quick and flexible support for the future; migrating once means flexibility from then onwards. In short Cloud Migration offers an agile, sustainable solution to the Windows server 2003 end of life.
  At Camwood we are experienced with transferring servers towards the cloud and can offer bespoke solutions in this area.
  If you’d like to find out more about how Camwood can help migrate the servers in your organisation, contact us today.

Camwood: Mobile Management

Overview In recent years the rise of smart phones, tablets & other mobile devices has meant consumers have become accustomed to being able to access information round the clock at the touch of a fingertip. The demand for information on the move has meant businesses have had to adapt. Companies are now adopting a CYOD (choose-your-own-device) or BYOD (bring-your-own-device) model rather than providing staff with corporate owned devices. The CYOD & BYOD models give employees more mobility, flexibility & choice. They are able to select devices that best suit their work needs and allow them to access the required applications & data – anywhere, anytime. Implications for Business The trend for CYOD & BYOD schemes requires businesses to place a greater importance on Mobile Device Management to ensure that both the devices themselves and the servers they connect to are secure. Users typically don’t want any restrictions placed on their devices, however it’s vital that the data is controlled and protected to prevent any risk to the business. A Cloud based system is one of the most effective ways of managing this. Mobile Device Management from Camwood Camwood’s approach delivers highly effective Mobile Device, Application and PC Management. Camwood uses Microsoft’s Enterprise Mobility Suite (EMS). This Cloud software is designed to control and manage the necessary applications whilst ensuring the user experience is not affected at any point. The EMS is Microsoft’s comprehensive cloud solution for IT, CYOD and BYOD challenges and includes the following:
  • Microsoft Intune
    • for mobile device and application management
  • Microsoft Azure Active Directory Premium
    • for hybrid identity management
  • Microsoft Azure Rights Management
    • for information protection
The Cloud based system that Camwood operates is compatible across all of the most popular platforms including Windows, Windows Phone, iOS and Android. Benefits Effective Mobile Device & Application Management improves a business’ mobility and agility & in turn productivity amongst staff. Implementing Intune enables your business to maximise productivity with managed Office mobile apps and with the Intune app wrapper there is the potential to extend mobile application management to line-of-business apps. Furthermore, leveraging Azure ADP & RM business data & resources can be provided to devices through designated accounts upon enrolment; fully compliant with all existing internal security policies. Finally simplifying administration via a single management console in the cloud with Intune or on-premises through integration with System Center 2012 Configuration Manager, is another example of how the business can become more mobile. If you’d like to find out more about Camwood’s Mobile Device Management Services, contact us today.

Forget the end of XP; it’s time for the end of Windows 7

After five years as Microsoft’s leading OS, this October saw the software giant officially pull the plug on Windows 7. Exactly one year since the company stopped producing copies of Seven for the retail market, October 31st signalled the first nail in the coffin for consumer version of Windows 7. From this point onwards, Microsoft will no longer sell any devices to consumers with Windows 7 pre-installed, making 8.1 the only default Windows operating system available … At least until the launch of Windows 10. While this decision may have come as a blow to Seven’s numerous fans, (this robust OS continues to have more than 50% of the market), it will thankfully prove far less relevant within the business arena. As it stands, enterprise users are yet to be affected. Microsoft may once more provide a significantly extended deadline for large organisations, (though this is by no means certain). Based on past experience, this would probably be a much-needed delay. At the moment many IT departments are still trying to make the switch to Windows 7, rather than away from it. Whether businesses are blessed with their usual extensions or not, the day will come when support for Windows 7 comes to a close, and a laissez faire approach to application and OS migration just won’t cut it this time around. Microsoft has learnt from the difficulties of the big XP switchover, and has come to realise that many businesses simply won’t go until they’ve been pushed. In some ways this is a very positive thing, with Microsoft doing everything in its power to help make future OS migrations an ever-smoother process. Additionally, as increasing numbers of businesses are migrating their applications to the Cloud, we grow ever closer to a situation in which operating systems can simply be slid in and out, with the applications floating untouched above. While the process may get easier, the frequency of these migrations is only going to increase. As the pace of technological change quickens, OS migrations could one day even become a yearly procedure. Since we first started our campaign to encourage a switch away from XP, Microsoft has announced four new operating systems, two of which are already on their way out of the door. In the face of this increasing pace of change, the only thing that businesses can do is to be as prepared as possible, (at least until they embrace the Cloud anyway). Truth be told, the end of Windows 7 may not impact your business for a good few years, but when it does, isn’t it better to be prepared? Otherwise businesses will be doomed to repeat the mistakes of Windows XP over and over again.