Small Business Server (SBS) 2003 – Time is nearly up!

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Small Business Server 2003 is one of the most popular of all of Microsoft’s offerings, especially among small and medium businesses owners (with 75 users or fewer) who don’t have as much access to IT support as larger companies. For over a decade this software has allowed them to enjoy email services, increased collaboration in their workplaces, internet access with firewalls, web and intranet services and protected data storage. SBS and the similar Windows Server 2003 are loved because they are flexible and great value for money. The problem is that now, it is also over 13 years old – ancient in IT terms.

The death knell sounded for Windows Server 2003 and SBS 2003 when Microsoft announced that support was to end this April. This means there will be no crucial security patches, bug fixes and upgrades coming out. So if you continue to use these programs you are putting your precious data at risk of attack from viruses and hackers. Running any program after its End of Of Life (EOL) is a disaster waiting to happen in terms of security. Compliance is an issue too, as running software that is no longer supported by the vendor usually violates regulatory agreement issues if you’re dealing with sensitive data.
Look back on the media storm that surrounded the EOL of end of Windows XP in April of last year. There was a huge drive to get Microsoft users to upgrade to a new operating system well before XP support stopped being offered. And upgrading an entire server is a much more complex job than upgrading desktops. Think about how long it took you to build up your system – possibly it’s taken several years. So if you’re running SBS or Windows Server 2003 and haven’t made plans to upgrade – we can’t stress how important it is that you do NOW. Let’s look at your options.

Move to the Cloud

The popularity of the cloud means that many smaller and medium sized businesses are giving up on in-house servers altogether and are instead transferring to the cloud. And there are many advantages for doing this – price and convenience being just two. Also, Microsoft’s Office 365, it’s cloud-based software, offers a great deal of flexibility for desktops, mobile and tablets. You can rely on a wide range of security features and a full Microsoft Office Suite as well. This all comes at a relatively low monthly rate and is even worth doing for small businesses.

Migrate to Windows Server 2012

You may decide to stick with the server based option and upgrade to the more recent Windows Server 2012. This boasts a range of new security features such as BitLocker and an interface that is remarkably similar to the popular Windows 8. Users also report improved performance, system management and scalability. What’s more you can run multiple operating systems on a single platform thanks to Hyper V virtualization technologies. The security is also much improved and can be enforced at domain level.

What’s my next step?

As we’ve said, if you’re still running Windows Server 2003 and SBS 2003 you should have a plan for the future. So here are the steps you can take.

First you need to look at which servers are running these operating systems and think about how important they are to your operations. Are they running important business applications and are they compliant with the services and laws under which you operate?

You then need to secure the data on your systems in case of failure and schedule a convenient time to begin your move to the cloud or to Windows Server 2012 that will cause the least disruption to your operations. But don’t leave it too late. You could put your whole company’s security system at risk.

If you want to know about the End of Life of SBS drop us a line and talk to us today.