Any switched-on channel type or IT manager will have this deadline hard wired in their cerebral cortex, but for those in need of an early morning jumpstart - support for Windows Server 2003 ends a year from today.
On 14 July 2015, Microsoft pulls extended support for the server operating system; it will no longer issue free patches, updates or security fixes unless a customer has lots of spare cash they are willing to part with.
There's also potentially a nest of compliance issues that could bite hard into any business using unsupported platforms, and many applications – including all Microsoft applications – will also cease to be supported.
The world's biggest shifter of server tin, HP, estimated some months back that 11 million systems were out there in the wild, equating to tens of thousands of units that need to be replaced each day before D-day.
Bill Veghte, exec veep and GM for HP's Enterprise Group, has now told The Channel that some 2.7 million servers in Europe are running on the operating system that he launched when at Microsoft all those years ago.
"We've gone through the numbers with the channel, we've dissected it by geography, size of customers and workload… to help us know where to hunt," he said.
The "opportunity" for HP business partners equates to nearly 7,400 Windows Server 2003 machines being replaced by shiny new ones each day for the next twelve months.
Failure to do so could be costly for customers: Microsoft reckons the end of support impact can be "$200,000 + a year on average" for anyone that wants custom support.
Rather unhelpfully, Redmond hasn't provided any more details save to note that regulations such as HIPAA, PCI, SOX & Dodd-Frank "will require regulated industries to run on supported platforms".
According to a survey by Microsoft partner App Zero at the start of this year, 62 per cent of customers didn't have a plan to upgrade or migrate from Windows Server 2003 or didn't know end of support was coming.
A little more than a third of those questioned are looking to take the cloudy route when they make the switch.
But Veghte said the direction of travel for customers is "application and web service driven", and that "the reality is there is a reason they are running Windows Server 2003… and much of it is workload-based".
"If Microsoft and HP are doing our job right, we can give you a modern platform without disrupting your application or web services. Other people will come forward and say here is the business case to migrate that interior app to a totally different architecture but that a much harder business case," the HP man stated,
The average Windows Server migration takes 200 days according to Microsoft partner QA, so the clock is ticking for both customers and the companies that sell to them. ®
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