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A WHOPPING 8 million Windows Server 2003 systems still out there

Refresh activity to be XP-like, biz still pondering next move

Windows Server 2003 refresh activity has yet to show up in a major way across the UK tech channel amid estimates that eight million physical systems are still out there in the wild - not all of which will be replaced like-for-like.

Security updates and fixes for the 11-year-old operating system will no longer be made available by Microsoft from 14 July when extended support expires.

Many in the IT channel view this as a major opportunity to breathe new life into server sales after a period of stagnation, but according to Tech Data CEO Bob Dutkovsky, this is not happening in a major way yet.

“Everyone of our server partners have programmes in place to energise the opportunity,” he told analysts on a Q3 conference call, “so the energy is building around it.

“But I don’t think it’s accurate to say that we’ve seen much motion yet. If you look at the PC refresh, it had a similar profile to it – it started rather slowly and then the reality set in, and the refresh actions happened.”

Reseller contacts told us businesses are still in the planning stages, and don’t expect much movement for several months yet. “Businesses won’t go until they really have to”.

Early in the summer, HP Enterprise Group executive veep Bill Veghte told us 11 million Windows Server 2003 machines were in use worldwide, with 2.7 million in Europe.

Veghte was the former Microsoft exec who launched Windows Server 2003.

According to Gartner, some eight million servers running the OS are out there globally, and it expects between two-thirds to three-quarters to be replaced by the end of next year.

But only 5.5 million systems will be replaced with other systems as customers choose to virtualise, said Errol Rasit, research director at the market watcher.

“2015 is when end of support occurs and we expect that to be a major year for servers, though some customers will run systems out of support,” he said.

System integrator and consultant Avanade, set up as a joint venture between Microsoft and Accenture in 2000, reckons some migration projects will not run smoothly and will be hit by delays.

It previously predicted one in five businesses running Windows Server 2003 will miss the end of support deadline.

Gartner man Rasit said some major bit barns will be easier to migrate than remote and branch office locations – including retail banks where they continue to run physical servers on site. For those with hundreds of locations, “this will take some time to roll out”.

“The timeframes of some organisations from inception to actually making the purchase can vary from three to six months,” he told us.

Obviously is a virtual to virtual upgrade the technical migration is far quicker but planning remains complex due to application support and licensing.

At the point Microsoft pulled extended support for Windows XP, some 27 per cent of the PC installed base worldwide were still running on it. Many departments in the UK negotiated support terms with Microsoft to keep getting security updates.

Dutkovsky at Tech Data said Windows Server 2003 will have a “different flavour to it”.

“There will be opportunity to sell replacement servers, just like-for-like, industry standard to industry standard servers, maybe with a little bit more horsepower, more modernised engines inside. But there will also be an opportunity to look at consolidating servers, sell larger servers with more virtualisation”.

This translates into more potential to sell software and “configuration opportunities” he added.

Of course there, the refresh may give customers the opportunity to bypass old style of buying and using technology altogether, and consider jumping into the cloud. Or so sellers of such services would have us believe.

Either way, there are now 234 days until Microsoft’s deadline arrives. ®

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