This article also appears on The VAR Guy.
I probably don’t need to spend time explaining why it’s a good idea to keep systems current because you probably already know. Even still, if you don’t have plans in place for Microsoft end-of-life for Server 2003, it’s probably time you get them in order; July 14 is right around the corner.
As we think about end-of-life, there are some important questions an IT provider should ask himself.
Are you ready?
This may sound daft, but it could be that you’ve been so focused on helping clients that you forgot to keep your own environment upgraded. Handling upgrades of your own equipment first is good because you don’t want to be in a situation where sorting your own mess prevents you from helping clients. Plus, you definitely want to practice what you preach, so upgrading your own systems should be a priority before you dig into client needs.
Are your clients ready?
You may be on top of migration plans already or you may have clients that have no idea Server 2003 is reaching end of life. Even worse, you may have clients who have no idea what Server 2003 is or why they need a new software when the version they have works just fine. Now is the time to share the risks they might face if they don’t upgrade, and to help them understand the advantages of having up-to-date equipment. Aside from the latest security, using the latest technology means a company is using the latest tools, which can mean a serious increase in productivity. Companies that invest in technology as a tool rather than a necessity are likely to see a greater benefit from it.
Have you thought about what to do before you migrate?
It’s wise to back up any system before you upgrade it, if only to ensure that if things go wrong, you can recover the original. What may be better, though, is to test an upgrade on a virtual machine copy of the original. This allows you to see how well the upgrade will go without affecting your production equipment. This may make you wonder: what’s a good tool for creating a virtual copy? There are a few options, but StorageCraft IT Edition is a great tool for creating multiple VMs of multiple machines for testing and migration purposes alike.
When should you migrate?
As with anything time sensitive, you’re best served by getting migrations done quickly. You want some wiggle room if you run into problems (aren’t there always problems?) so be sure to get started as quickly as you can so you’re not scrambling to have it all done the day before end of life happens.
Where should you migrate?
Where to migrate is also an issue. Maybe some clients want to move workloads to the cloud (Azure, Office 365, etc.) or want to upgrade equipment while they’re at it. Where you’re migrating can be a huge question, and one that can result in more productive clients and even profits for you if it’s framed and implemented properly. Microsoft even has a great tool that assists with migration planning.
Is now a good time to virtualize?
More than likely, yes, now might be an excellent time to virtualize systems. While you’re already upgrading to a newer version, it’s worth considering whether or not virtualization makes sense for various clients.
By now end of life should be a well-understood piece of the IT puzzle, but it’s still worth thinking about every time a support cycle ends. With careful planning, it can be a smooth process with benefits for you and your clients.
Photo credit: Dcoetzee via Wikimedia