Does your business have a server on premises? Was it purchased more than a few years ago?
If you answered yes to these questions, then you should check to see what version of Windows you are running.
Microsoft has announced the End-of-Life (EOL) date for Windows Server 2012 and 2012 R2.
Neither will be supported after October 10, 2023.
That’s a few months away, but not much time when it comes to making changes of this scale.
This overview will help walk you through getting your business up to date while minimizing disruptions.
- What exactly is EOL?
- The implications involved moving forward
- Risks involved in taking no action
- What your options are
What exactly is EOL?
Microsoft’s announcement is that the 2012 and 2012 R2 versions of Windows Server are end of life, meaning that all support will cease on the given date of October 10 later this year.
This means that, verbatim quote;
“these products will no longer receive security updates, non-security updates, bug fixes, technical support, or online technical content updates.”
EOL doesn’t mean that the product will stop working come October 10th, but it does mean that there are zero resources, of any kind, devoted to it from Microsoft.
The implications involved moving forward
What does this announcement mean for the future of Windows Server 2012?
No Security Updates
Every software product has flaws. As those flaws are discovered they get exploited by bad actors into attacks on businesses. Security updates patch those flaws as they get discovered to protect companies from these exploits.
When your server Operating System is EOL, there are no more patches and therefore it becomes at risk. Literally any vulnerability found after October 10 will remain vulnerable forever.
No Stability Updates
Why do your PCs perform worse over time? It’s because computing changes over time.
Even removing any advancements in features that come along that older computers weren’t made for, just running the same software on the same machine for years makes it sluggish and unstable.
Software must update and evolve to meet demands and stay stable. This is what stability updates do.
As a product reaches EOL it has already aged significantly, but as time goes on with updates no longer being provided, it becomes progressively less stable.
As time goes on it will be harder to update your existing system to a newer one.
The reasons why are hard to describe, but easy to understand.
Imagine you are upgrading your phone to a brand new iPhone 14 Pro, from one that is just a couple of years old like an iPhone 12. Doing so will be a smooth and flawless transition, taking very little time and all of your data will be preserved.
Now imagine that you are buying the same iPhone 14 Pro, but you’re upgrading from an iPhone 3s. That process is not going to go nearly as smoothly, if it can at all. The old device is just too old, with no support and the current iOS is just incompatible with it.
The same will be true with Windows Server 2012. Right now, you can still get support for it and all the newer Microsoft products. You can easily migrate from one to another. There will come a day in the future when that will not be so easy, if not impossible. It’s just a matter of time.
Risks involved in taking no action
Hopefully, the implications make it clear that updating from an EOL product is very important. How do those implications practically impact your business?
Security & Stability
It was mentioned that when products become EOL they no longer get support updates. Microsoft is essentially saying “If you don’t update to a current product then you’re on your own.”
Your business will be vulnerable to attacks and to instability in increasingly severe ways, and nobody can help you.
Sticking with the old means, well, that you are stuck with the old. You will not have any new features or capabilities that your competition is utilizing.
This is where your future proofing comes into play. If you don’t upgrade now it will be much harder to later.
The amount of disruption to your business becomes greater, not to mention the costs involved with making that switch. Save now and you’ll pay later.
What are your options?
There are a few options you can choose from for updating your server infrastructure.
Upgrade your server hardware
Unfortunately, you can’t just update your OS from 2012 to the newest 2022 version. The physical hardware running 2012 is just not capable of running the latest server OS.
The more realistic scenario here is to upgrade your server hardware. New server hardware will come with the latest Windows Server 2022 installed, and then it’s all about migrating your data over.
Use virtualized servers on your server hardware
Better yet, especially if you have multiple servers, is to move them to a virtualized environment. That is the process of creating virtual server instances on a physical hardware server. It adds the benefits of running multiple servers, file share, or application devices all on a single physical unit. The consolidation saves money, scales easily, and has better backup and disaster recovery flexibility.
Move to cloud servers
A third option could be to move your entire network infrastructure to a cloud environment. This would allow you to get rid of your on-premise server, grant all the benefits of the virtualized servers, give greater reliability and uptime, while also giving global access to your team. This is the most invasive option and will entirely rework your network infrastructure, but it will deliver the most value and be easiest to scale moving forward.
With any of these options, you will have the benefits of a modern server operating system. Depending on your choice, you may also gain significant processing power and storage capacity as well.
We’ve made an infographic for you that breaks down these choices to refer to helping you plan for the change.
If you’re still running a server with Microsoft Server 2012, these are the most common choices for upgrading. We know every business is unique and may require different considerations.
Do you still have questions or concerns? Feel free to get in touch for a consultation and we’ll advise on the best path for your business.