As Microsoft Windows Server 2003 support is ending, firms must look at their options on how to move forward with their servers and applications. With an estimated 3.75 million machines still running the operating system, this poses an extremely large, complex, and resource-intensive project for some IT infrastructures.
So, what does Microsoft support “ending” mean to companies still running Windows Server 2003? Servers will still continue to function, obviously, but it will mean no more patches or security fixes without a custom support agreement in place. The security and uptime implications of your applications are about to be refactored in a dramatic way. Many compliance requirements, especially in regulated industries, state that applications have to run on a supported Operating System (OS).
The options are an in-place migration to another on-premise server, virtual or physical, or a more forward-thinking ‘move to a cloud-based infrastructure, specifically Microsoft’s Azure offering. Costs wise, the price of Azure’s IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) may be more practical than the upfront costs of hardware and ongoing maintenance and licensing of on-premise equipment. Our partners tell us that “stand-alone migration costs per machine run from $1,500 - $4,000 with the average costing around $2,500.” Companies must weigh these options when deciding how to move forward with migrating their Windows Server 2003 machines.
Once the decision is made to utilize Microsoft Azure for migrating legacy Sever 2003 machines to the cloud, what is the process? At a high level, there are 5 steps to go through to make your migration as seamless as possible. Various tools can be used to automate one or all of these steps.
Step 1: Discover
Start by making a list of the servers that are running Windows Server 2003. Don’t forget to note, for each, whether it is running the 32-bit or 64-bit version, as that will come in handy later.
Tools: Windows Server 2003 Migration Planning Assistant; Windows Server 2003 Roles Migration Process
Step 2: Assess
Now that you have your list, it is time to answer these three questions for each server:
- What is the server doing today?
- Is what the server is doing critical, or can it be retired?
- Is the server running an application that can be upgraded to run on a more modern version of Windows or as a SaaS application?
Tools: Microsoft Assessment Planning Toolkit; Azure Virtual Machine Readiness Assessment
Step 3: Target
Now that you’ve assessed the servers and applications, it is time to determine what to do with each of them. We call this setting a target. You may have different targets for the various workloads. Certain applications or software might not be cloud compatible, so your targets might be:
Tools: Cloudamize Estimator; Microsoft Azure (IaaS) Cost Estimator Tool
Step 4: Migrate Hosts
Now that you’ve set the targets, it is time to migrate. There are resources, training, and tools available to help you with this step.
- Prepare Azure virtual machines
- Connect Azure virtual network to your infrastructure
- Build out Windows Servers
Step 5: Migrate Applications
You can easily migrate your existing websites that run on Internet Information Service (IIS) 6 or later to App Service Web Apps. Web Apps Migration Assistant can analyze your IIS server installation, identify which sites can be migrated to App Service, highlight any elements that cannot be migrated or are unsupported on the platform, and then migrate your websites and associated databases to Azure.
The Azure Websites Migration Assistant will analyze your IIS installation and identify which sites can be migrated to the cloud, highlighting any elements which cannot be migrated or are unsupported on the platform. Once analyzed, the migration assistant will also create the website(s) and database(s), under a given Azure subscription
The fast-approaching, end-of-support for Windows Server 2003 presents opportunities for customers to get current and stay supported, and also begin implementing a more hybrid- or cloud-like approach to their IT infrastructure.
By: Jim Mazzeo
Senior Consultant, Infrastructure