On Tuesday, July 14, the inevitable end of computer servers as we know them arrived, as Microsoft finally retired its Windows Server 2003 operating system.
And despite months of reminders to upgrade their servers and migrate their applications, a stunning number of data centers are still unprepared for the end of Windows Server 2003.
According to Computer Weekly, about 11 million machines worldwide are still running on Windows Server 2003, despite the fact that Microsoft is no longer issuing security patches or upgrades to this platform. The result? A frightening number of computer servers that will be vulnerable to hackers and cyber-breaches in the coming months.
Additionally, without regular security updates from Microsoft, data centers still using Windows Server 2003 run the risk of failing to meet regulatory compliance. Failing to adhere to compliance regulations like HIPAA or PCI can come with hefty fines.
“Failure to have a current, supported operating system raises significant concerns about an organisation’s ability to meet regulatory compliance requirements, as well as the needs of business units, partners and customers,” IT research firm IDC stated in February.
While the computer server manufacturing industry may generate an incredible $14 billion per year, these servers will be virtually useless without an effective security structure in place.
Fortunately, there are a few ways data centers can adapt to the Windows Server 2003 phase-out. For one, their IT departments can develop their own security patches for the platform. Another option is seeking custom support from Microsoft; however, this certainly won’t come cheap.
The most logical thing for data centers to do is to migrate their servers to a different server operating system. Windows Server 2008 and 2012 are the most logical operating systems to choose, with the 2012 edition containing the most up-to-date security features, such as Dynamic Access Control.
Data centers truly have only one surefire way to prevent a Windows Server 2003 data breach — migrate to a more current version, or stay stuck in the past and face heightened server vulnerability.