The clock is ticking for those enterprises who still have SharePoint 2003 deployments, and the distant drumming begins for those who have any investment in the SharePoint 2007 platform. Microsoft’s support of both of these products have recent or upcoming major milestones that our clients need to consider with their IT planning.

SharePoint 2003 will have no formal free support from Microsoft in just over a year (April 2014). SharePoint 2007’s mainstream support just ended (November 2012).

As a general rule, Microsoft supports all of its products in a rhythm of the next version release (which has gone in traditional 7 year cycles). “Mainstream support” lasts for up to two years following the release of a product’s successor. According to Microsoft Support, “extended support” continues for a further five years following the end of the “mainstream support”.

The differences between extended and mainstream support are that the former reduces the options for free advice and updates from Microsoft. Extended support does not include hot fixes and charges by the hour for incident support. The extended support phase does include free security updates should Microsoft deem them necessary.

Once extended support expires, client options for remediation and help from Microsoft can be expensive – up to $200,000 for those with Software Assurance, $500,000 for those without.

So what should you do? If you have mission critical data and workloads currently running on SharePoint 2003, now is the pivotal time to execute migration off of those platforms, as they have come to end of life. The platform now has 3 newer versions (2007, 2010 and soon to be released 2013).

In the case of SharePoint 2007, mainstream support ended in October of last year and extended support runs until 2017.

For those firms who have invested in either 2003 or 2007 platform, it’s time to have a close look at how they are using these solutions and how they plan to migrate or retire their workloads, or take advantage of the newer features of the 2010 or 2013 platforms. Navantis has deep and broad experience assessing these challenges and prescribing the best way forward, while executing the actual work as well.

As a final thought: A similar and potentially more acute situation may be residing around the desktop, as the old workhorse OS XP is coming to similar end of life as SharePoint 2003 (extended support ending in April 2014).

For those enterprises still using that OS (and our experience shows that many are), it is critical to start an upgrade program, as these tend to take 6-8 months to fully roll out. Whereas a SharePoint 2003 or 2007 workload can be isolated and the impact mitigated, a desktop OS issue can touch everyone in your organization, and have measurable detrimental business impact unless mitigated decisively, and soon. Look for a more detailed post from my colleagues over in our Advanced Infrastructure practice on this topic shortly.

Navantis is here to help.