If you’re still running Windows Server 2003 (WS03), I’m sure you are starting to get a sense of impending doom. On July 14, 2015 support for Windows Server 2003 will cease, leaving the 61% of customers, according to Microsoft data, who are still running Windows Server 2003 high and dry.

It’s not like we didn’t know it was coming though. Microsoft has made their product lifecycle readily available, but it seems like July 2015 has crept up on us. In his article Everything You Need to Consider about Windows Server 2003 Migration for IT World Canada, Tamer Marzouk puts this support withdrawal into perspective, “Microsoft and its partners would need to upgrade 20,000 instances of WS03 a day to meet the July 2015 deadline that Microsoft has decided for end of support (EOS).” So if you’re still running WS03, rest assured that you’re not alone. It’s alarming how low migration rates are given the hype around the security risks associated with remaining on unsupported systems and the fact that there are only three months left until the EOS date.

For many it’s simply because WS03 is still doing its job. And although servers will be far less secure, they will continue to perform after the deadline. For many business leaders there is no sense of urgency. The thought of a migration project sounds like a lot of work, not to mention a financial commitment many are simply not prepared to make.

There is a misunderstanding among business leaders about the severity and the risks associated with applications remaining on an unsupported server. End of support can affect the entire business. It is not just the risk of being hacked, there is far more at stake. After July 14th any business who handles customer information or private data and stores it on a server running WS03 is faced with the risk of being found non-compliant among regulators.

This is particularly important for customers that handle regulated data. Organizations that have compliance requirements may fall out of compliance by refusing to migrate away from Windows Server 2003.This will impact organizations in almost every industry including health care, financial services, professional services, retail, and more.

Financial Services Commission of Ontario is one of the governing bodies that has issued a mandate that requires all of its members to be running supported software. But that’s not all. The Payment Card Industry’s Data Security Standards (PCI DSS) also has established strict regulations to enhance cardholder data security. This standard “applies to all entities involved in payment card processing—including merchants, processors, acquirers, issuers, and service providers, as well as all other entities that store, process or transmit cardholder data (CHD) and/or sensitive authentication data (SAD)” according to the latest release of the PCI DSS. To remain compliant organizations must confirm their hardware and software technologies continue to be supported by their vendor and can meet security requirements.

What does this mean for your business? If you are found non-compliant you will no longer be able to host Visa and MasterCard transactions on your website as the security and integrity of the system cannot be guaranteed. For this reason Chief Financial Officers (CFO) and other business leaders should be checking in with their IT departments now to begin devising a migration strategy.

Your team needs a plan for the fast approaching Windows Server 2003 end of support date. In any environment there are a lot of moving parts and interdependencies. Understanding how all these relationships will be impacted is a critical element for your success. Before you begin, take a look at Efim Idelman’s last blog where he describes the five things to consider when beginning the planning process. Then consider contacting a Microsoft partner. This migration is your opportunity to realize cost savings, simplify your environment and reclaim peace of mind with enterprise-grade security. It’s time to start thinking migration, and the opportunity to enable your business to keep up with newfangled technology.

On May 6th Navantis is hosting an exclusive breakfast event at Microsoft Canada to discuss whether to love your environment or consider a move. Microsoft and Navantis experts will discuss:

  • Active Directory Services
  • File Shares
  • Applications
  • Consolidation
  • Desktops and Devices

Windows Server 2003 End of Support

Learn more about the event here: http://bit.ly/1Iv0sLF

Join us for breakfast and an in-depth discussion on where this move could take your business!