When an operating system(OS) nears the end of its lifecycle (as determined by its producer), organizations relying on that OS to support their devices must start preparing for a transition. Thinking about Windows, the most recent operating systems to go end of life (EOL) were Windows Vista which did so in April 2017, and Windows Server 2008 more recently in January 2020.
The Microsoft Windows Server 2012 operating system’s mainstream support end date occurred nearly five years ago (October 2018), but extended support for the OS was extended multiple times. The eventual end date is coming up in October of 2023, which means significant implications for businesses relying on it. It’s critical that organizations understand the negative implications of operating on an end-of-life OS and how to properly prepare for the sunsetting of it well in advance.
What Happens When an OS Goes End of Life?
When a creator sunsets an operating system, they stop releasing security updates for that system, leaving any device operating on it vulnerable to security threats. Support also ceases at this end of life. The sunsetting of Windows Server 12, means Microsoft will no longer provide support for critical issues that arise after October of this year. The likelihood of major issues will only increase post-October, as Microsoft will no longer address bugs in the OS or release fixes and upgrades.
In addition to Microsoft stopping support, many third-party software vendors will no longer accept the outdated OS. This might manifest in software products not installing or those already installed losing functionality.
Risks of Continuing to Use an End-of-Life Operating System
Choosing to continue using an end-of-life OS shouldn’t even be an option for responsible business owners. The security risks associated with doing so greatly outweigh the time and resources needed to seek an alternative OS prior to official sunsetting. End-of-life technology is incredibly vulnerable to cyber threats, as bugs in them spread freely and no updates, fixes, or patches are available from Microsoft to limit these. This means compromised security for all devices relying on the OS as well as all software applications running on it.
Using an end-of-life operating system also presents compliance issues in many industries – healthcare and national security to name a few. Fines for data breaches or loss because of outdated operating systems can be pricey.
Adding to the cost of using an outdated operating system are the maintenance costs that come along with trying to address IT issues within the system in-house. Many IT professionals refuse to work on outdated OS and those that do charge high fees for their expertise.
How to Prepare for the Departure of Server 2012
Unfortunately for businesses and individuals still using the Server 2012 operating system, there is no automatic upgrade or in-place upgrade offered by Microsoft to ensure a smooth transition to a continuing option. Preparing for the departure of Server 2012 requires installing a new server and migrating all of the services and data a business uses to that new server.
For those choosing to remain with a Windows operating system, that likely means upgrading to Windows Server 2022. This latest version of the OP offers increased security with multi-layer protection against cyber threats. Another option is migrating to Azure for an additional up to three years of free extended security updates. The Azure Migration and Modernization Program can assist with the migration and navigation of these extended support services.
In cases where a business can’t implement a migration plan before support for the operating system ceases in October, at the very least – extra security measures need to be put in place to add as many layers of protection as possible against the then ultra-vulnerable server. Microsoft is offering some element of extended security updates for certain users, but those updates won’t offer the comprehensive coverage and security a current operating system provides. These also only protect for a short time and are not a permanent solution to avoid migrating to a new server.
Businesses with Kustura Technologies Support
For existing Kustura customers, there is little to worry about when it comes to the upcoming conclusion of Server 2012. Our team is already underway in preparing quotes for migration for all business clients, with the only real requirement on the client side being that they have service agreements with any third-party software vendors they partner with. This grants our team access to the latest version of that software as well as its support department, which is sometimes needed during the migration process.
For businesses in Jacksonville and Gainesville still on Server 2012 that are not currently utilizing Kustura Technologies for managed IT support, it’s critical to start thinking about a migration plan now versus waiting for the OS to fade out in October. For those without a qualified, in-house IT team to handle the migration, partnering with a local team of experts is the best way to ensure little (if not none) disruption to operations during the transition. These teams are already fielding lots of inquiries about migration assistance, so reaching out sooner than later can help secure a place in line with time to spare. To learn more about the expertise we have on board here at Kustura Technologies, our migration assistance offerings, or to discuss other ways to ease your mind when it comes to business IT, we encourage you to reach out today!