Death knell for Microsoft's Windows Server 2003 grows louder

As Windows Server 2003's July end of life approaches, Microsoft trumpets the need to upgrade or migrate to Azure

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With the end-of-support deadline for Windows Server 2003 looming in July (Bastille Day, no less), Microsoft has begun sounding the death knell for the venerable server OS more loudly -- for good reason.

Many businesses are still heavily invested in Windows Server 2003, creating a potential support nightmare of the same scope as the existing enterprise investment in Windows XP.

In a blog post today, Takeshi Numoto, corporate vice president for cloud and enterprise marketing at Microsoft, once again thumped the tub for leaving Windows Server 2003 and either moving to newer versions of Windows Server or migrating your server workload to Microsoft Azure. Many of the risks of running Windows Server 2003 after the deadline, Numoto argued, are not only about protecting one's own infrastructure, but also involve issues like PCI DSS security provisions for regulated industries.

Microsoft has been rolling out a slew of migration aides to help leave the physical infrastructure. Some aides, like the Migration Planning Assistant, are aimed at creating a top-down migration plan that includes everything from first- and third-party applications to Windows-specific resources like Active Directory, with Azure as one of the more prominent targets. Others, like the Azure Websites Migration Assistant, focus on individual functions, such as moving an existing Windows Server 2003 website hosted on IIS to an Azure-hosted site.

Customers who opt to stay with Microsoft, rather than using the OS's end of life to move to an entirely new infrastructure, face two choices: Go with a new physical server, or move to Azure. Given Microsoft's need to drive revenue through Azure, Microsoft has been working hard to ensure that the first choice leads in some manner to the second -- whether via turnkey hardware solutions that promise a hybrid cloud in a box, or by having Azure work as a cloud-hosted disaster recovery system for on-premises Windows installations.