After support expires, many organisations still cling to Windows Server 2003


Figures from the Cloud Industry Forum (CIF) reveal more than half (51%) of organisations polled with between 21 and 200 employees and almost three quarters (72%) of firms with more than 200 employees are still reliant on Windows Server 2003, despite the support from Microsoft having expired on July 14.

Naturally, this may not be the most surprising news you will read today. Back in April, this publication spoke with hybrid IT provider Zynstra and cloud storage provider CTERA Networks and concluded many organisations were leaving it until the last minute to finalise data migration plans. As Nick East, Zynstra CEO, argued: “The most expensive upgrade strategy is the one that you do in crisis – you’ve done it after the event, so you really don’t have any options.”

Small businesses have been steadily migrating away from WS2003, the CIF argues, and the key factor in larger organisations’ reluctance to move is complexity. Jon Seddon, head of product at Outsourcery, a founder member of the CIF, said: “When we consider how integral Windows Server 2003 has been to businesses’ IT for the past decade, and the layers that have built up on the operating system during that time, the task of moving away from it can be a daunting one.”

Seddon echoed East’s ‘don’t bury your head in the sand’ ethos when he added: “It’s somewhat understandable that the proportion of larger organisations still using Windows Server 2003 hasn’t shown much movement in the run up to the end of support deadline. But doing nothing is clearly not an option, and those still using the operating system past [the] deadline face significant risks to the security of their data, their productivity and the ability to remain competitive.”

The research, of 250 UK IT decision makers, found a quarter of organisations with fewer than 20 employees have upgraded from WS2003 in the past year. 44% of those organisations claim to still use the outdated server in some aspect, down from 58% in 2014.

In May, the CIF prognosticated over how adoption of cloud services would increase as more firms flew away from WS2003, arguing by early 2016 86% of UK-based firms will formally use at least one cloud service. Back then, 58% of companies polled overall by the advisory board were using the server, down only 2% from the year before.

For the cloud service providers, the CIF notes a word of caution, adding they need to show businesses they can be trusted with the most intimate of corporate data. East argued similarly, saying the software industry should “do a better job” of making the software lifecycle more transparent for companies. Organisations do not need to migrate data away from WS2003 in one hit, he added; one of his customers utilised a “divide and conquer” approach, where one particularly tricky application to move over was using Server 2003 on a virtualised machine.