Windows Server 2003 EOL Calls SMBs to Embrace New Technology

Businesses of all sizes seem to be scrambling to replace the systems they built their companies on. At the dawn of the new millennium, Microsoft Windows Server 2003 opened doors for companies to optimize their business practices. Data entry was simplified, automatic order-to-cash processes became possible, market research could thrive, and customers had the power to independently access information about a business’s services. At the time, these were milestones for a new technological frontier. Today, we see that these processes have only accelerated as technology advancements continue to progress. As a result, Windows Server 2003 can no longer keep up with the technology or businesses of today.

Nostalgia for Microsoft’s oldest active server is limited mostly because society is so captivated by fresh technology and quick to adopt new systems. But some businesses, especially small businesses, can feel like their operational efficiency will get turned on its head come July. Some even wonder why Windows Server 2003 has to go and how another server – one that comes with a lot of learning curves – will benefit them.

Cindy Bates is the Vice President of Microsoft U.S. SMB Group. On her blog, she has Joe McKendrick, a contributor for Forbes Insights, write about how you can Embrace the Digital Age with a New Generation of Technology.

In this blog post he says:

Infrastructure solutions built on Microsoft Windows Server 2003 paved the way for small to midsize businesses to enter the information age and to make computing power ubiquitous across their enterprises. However, while these solutions have served many small to midsize businesses well over the past decade, it’s time to adopt the next generation of computing to move to the next level. While Windows Server 2003-based applications have been very effective at computerizing core business operations, this older technology has reached its limits. (Microsoft has announced it will be ending support for Windows Server 2003 in July 2015.) The software and underlying hardware in Windows Server 2003 was not designed to run or effectively integrate with today’s generation of applications, or to support greater mobility and cloud access. If a company wants to run components in the cloud or enhance connectivity with suppliers and customers, additional workarounds are required.

Small and midsize businesses now have compelling choices for advancing into the digital era. They can continue to build, deploy and maintain applications and data in-house, through a powerful new generation of resident servers; go to the cloud for the same resources; or employ a combination of both in-house and cloud technologies for their needs. The latest infrastructure solutions on the market, both on-premises-server and cloud based, provide development, deployment and infrastructure services, and support many different programming languages, tools and frameworks, including both Microsoft-specific and third-party software and systems.

A new generation of on-premises servers blends high levels of processing power with access to networked or cloud resources, enabling small and midsize business to have access to the same technological capabilities as their larger counterparts, without the overhead costs of maintaining an IT infrastructure.

If small businesses aren’t convinced that leaving Windows Server 2003 will benefit them, they may perk up at the thought of reducing expenses and simplifying IT infrastructure maintenance. A lot of resources go into ensuring a server runs properly each and every day. Small businesses that have tight budgets, limited IT experience, and overworked IT pros may benefit from upgrading to a server that boasts a wide array of cloud services. (If you are not aware, cloud-based applications have been saving companies capital and IT headaches for years now.)

Here is what McKendrick has to say about the cloud-based benefits of Windows Server 2012:

Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials, based on Windows Server 2012 R2, enables businesses to take advantage of a wide range of IT resources, including on-premises applications, as well as cloud-based applications and services such as Microsoft Office 365, Microsoft Exchange Server 2010 and Microsoft Azure. Windows Server 2012 Essentials provides automatic backup and quick-connect VPN, data security, virtual operation, cloud service integration, remote access, file and print sharing, data backup and restoration, and other core server capabilities in one integrated package. Small and midsize businesses can choose which applications and services run on-premises and which run in the cloud. For example, they can run an on-premises copy of Exchange Server, subscribe to a hosted Exchange service or subscribe to Office 365.

With a cloud-centric option, businesses can access and run the latest business applications – as well as existing applications—and connect those applications, data and services to any end-user client or device. Workloads can be moved between on-premises and cloud environments with the click of a mouse. With unlimited scalability instantly available, small and midsize businesses can launch promotions or new market initiatives without worrying about overwhelming their infrastructure with more transactions or data than it can handle.

Microsoft Azure, available with Windows Server 2012 or as a standalone service, enables businesses to quickly scale up or down to match demand, and small and midsize businesses pay only for what they use. Small and midsize businesses can see substantial savings in on-premises data center costs, because they will not be required to pay for and maintain extra, unused server capacity. Companies can use hundreds of terabytes, and even petabytes, of Azure-based storage – a key benefit as big data grows, along with various unstructured file types, such as video files and sensor data.

Cloud-based solutions such as Azure are always highly available. It offers automatic data storage, backup and recovery. In addition, security is assured, through identity and access management technologies, as well as Active Directory, which provides an identity and access management cloud solution to help control access to thousands of Microsoft and non-Microsoft applications in the public cloud.

Let’s face it, when it comes to deploying technology that runs a business, looking to the cloud is wise. Jennifer Didier, founder and CEO of Directions Training, a technical training school in Chicago, moved her small business to the cloud three years ago, when talk of cloud-based services were just beginning to surface. Today, her workforce is united through technology without being confined to an office suite and, with the way revenue has grown since 2012, there is no question about whether or not she made the right decision.

Cindy Bates’ guest blog confirms that this success is possible for small businesses:

The stakes in moving to a more digital-capable platform are high for small to midsize businesses. Businesses cannot afford the risk of relying on old technology that serves to just help them “get by.” That’s because it’s a different world than it was five to 10 years ago. Not only are small to midsize businesses competing against their counterparts across town, but they are also competing against startups from around the globe. Business managers need to be able to reach out and actively engage with customers, suppliers and employees. They need to have data available that provides the intelligence to understand the forces shaping their markets, as well as the preferences of customers. They need the flexibility of accessing applications from both their PCs and mobile devices. Microsoft Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials and Microsoft Azure make it easy for businesses to transition to this digital reality. In the process, they will be able to fully participate in today’s digital marketplace.

The digital age is here, and now is the time for small and midsize companies to begin building for the future.

Do you feel that your company’s operational efficiency, market outreach, and bottom line are sluggish because you are tied to old technology? Is your business still using Microsoft Windows Server 2003? If so, there are system integrators, licensing service providers, and IT training facilitators who are ready to help you reach for the cloud and embrace new technology.

On her blog, Cindy Bates includes information for small businesses that are transitioning away from Microsoft Windows Server 2003.

“If your company is ready to embrace new technology, there are a variety of resources available through both Microsoft and our partners to help guide the journey. For example, resources on the SMB Business Hub are a great place to start your Windows Server 2003 migration plans. It features on-demand webinar content, a migration planning assistant and other valuable information that will help small businesses discover, assess, target and migrate to modern technology. Be sure to discuss details with your technology partner, or Microsoft can help you find one through Pinpoint.”


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