Updated: Feb 18, 2020
Time to Upgrade: Microsoft to End Support for Windows 7 and Server 2008
While Windows 7 and Server 2008 are considered to be some of the most reliable operating systems ever released by Microsoft, each of these platforms are approaching their end of support date.
If you currently run these platforms, there is an important date that you should circle on your calendar: January 14th 2020.
Even if you have purchased extended support, this is the day that Microsoft will stop supporting these two platforms. While both operating systems have certainly served their purpose in the business technology arenas, it's more important than ever to begin thinking about migrating to Windows 10 or Server 2019 as soon as possible.
Business Continuity Implications
Let's face it, there are still enterprises using legacy versions of Microsoft products in their environment today. In fact, it isn't that uncommon to run across machines still operating on XP or Server 2003.
Let's pitch this hypothetical scenario: let's say it's January 15th 2020 and your backups are unavailable and you come into your office in your Server 2008 domain controllers simply won't boot up. Who are you going to call?
While the term "Ghostbusters" would probably be a humorous answer, they might be more help than Microsoft in this instance. If your business continuity plan (BCP) includes legacy operating systems, CIOs and CTOs cannot put forth a serious plan to business stakeholders knowing that they will be running Microsoft operating systems that no longer get support from the technology giant.
Making the Decision to Upgrade
In the IT world, it can be easy to say "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." However, when you're talking about your critical infrastructure, this rule goes right out the window. Making the decision to upgrade may sound like a sales ploy to get your company to spend more money on things that it doesn't need but that's simply not true.
Microsoft has built out an entire ecosystem of products for enterprises of all sizes. In the newer versions of Server 2016 and 2019, businesses are emboldened to extend their data center in the cloud and utilize the advantages of virtualized workloads.
Active Directory has been enhanced with various features that provide a one-stop shop for all of your enterprise identity management needs. Organizations are able to gain the best performance from their data center storage infrastructure with specific enhancements that increase disk I/O and virtual memory utilization on the Server 2019 platform.
Today's enterprises can gain distinct workflow advantages when they implement the latest builds of Microsoft Windows 10 for all of their end users. Seamless integrations with applications such as Office 365 provide advantages such as "Bring Your Own Device" and work from anywhere capabilities.
Planning Your Infrastructure Migration
If you run a 100% virtualized data center, many experts suggest building out new servers and finding the best way to migrate specific applications onto the virtual machines running the latest versions of Microsoft Server.
While Server 2008 R2 has a direct upgrade path to newer versions of Microsoft Server, the 2008 Standard flavor does not. You can also run into issues when trying to perform upgrades-in-place that will leave you scratching your head. Microsoft does not recommend that you try an upgrade-in-place on servers that are running key roles such as Active Directory or Exchange. Spinning up the latest version of Microsoft Server on a new VM will give you the best results.
The same can be said for deploying new operating systems to your end users. If your desktop users are still on legacy operating systems, it's probable that they are also running on old hardware as well. If you plan on running a virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI), you could get away with running thin clients. If you aren't running VDI, you should probably look into pricing out a desktop PC upgrade for all of your end users.
Several factors should be weighed when decide on which type of desktop upgrade deployment is right for your users. For example, if you use a VDI deployment, you could potentially streamline your business continuity plan since users can remotely connect to your network using a VPN in order to access their desktop resources. If you plan a traditional desktop upgrade, you have to think about what your business would do in the unlikely event that your end users are unable to access your facilities.
CIOs and decision makers must be vigilant and thoughtful when it comes time to upgrade their aging operating systems. Unfortunately for them, the clock is ticking down because the magic date of January 14th 2020 will be here before they know it. If you're thinking about upgrading your aging infrastructure, the perfect time to put together an action plan is right now.