Just a few months remain until Windows Server 2003 reaches end of support. Security updates will no longer be released, new applications and programs will no longer support the OS, systems will fall out of PCI and HIPAA compliance and incur higher IT maintenance costs. So have you started your migration away from Server 2003 yet? If not you need to make a plan.
We recently talked with Newegg’s Senior Systems Engineer and resident Windows migration expert Seldon Sun from our own internal IT department for this step-by-step outline for SMBs that have yet to create a migration plan.
Step 1: Find Target Servers
Understand that all of your IT infrastructure may not need migration. The first step is to distinguish which servers still run Windows Server 2003 and which are already upgraded. For small IT operations, assessing which servers need to be migrated can be relatively easy, but medium-sized locations may need some help. Microsoft offers an assessment and planning toolkit that can help you get started.
Related content: Windows Server 2003 EOS: 5 Free Migration Resources
Step 2: Compose Affected Applications List
Once you know the servers you are targeting, assess the installed applications and workloads. For instance, do you have programs that currently run on a 32-bit Windows Server 2003 installation? Some of those programs may have issues when moving to a 64-bit environment such as Server 2012. Identify items that will be affected and list them. Now is the time to think about updating legacy applications and solutions.
In many cases this can be pretty straightforward. An old Exchange server, for example, you may just decide to move many of its functions to a cloud solution such as Office 365.
Step 3: Determine Risks
In a server migration, many things can unfortunately go wrong. If a mission-critical system becomes unavailable for an extended time, what are the financial and productivity costs? During this phase of planning, get to know your backups in case of unintended consequences. You don’t want to find out that one key application no longer works post-migration and have no backup in place.
One way to help determine risk is to stage a migration in a controlled setting similar to your production environment. This allows you to see what can potentially go wrong and what you need to do to address those issues.
Step 4: Make a Rollback Plan
As its name implies, a rollback plan lets you roll back or revert any changes you made so everything goes back to the original state—before you made any changes. It is important to have a rollback plan just in case something goes wrong. If downtime during the migration becomes unacceptably long, you should have a plan to revert back to Server 2003 and get everything returning to normal.
Microsoft offers a handy step-by-step guide for creating a rollback plan for Windows Server 2003 systems.
Analyze what went wrong and how you need to address the issue to ensure a smooth migration at a later time.
Step 5: Make an Execution Plan
Once you have found your target servers and affected applications, determined the risks, and created a rollback plan, proceed to create an execution plan. You can take the DIY approach and do everything in-house or go with a vendor-provided service. Microsoft also offers basic instructions on how to make an execution plan.
These steps for server migration planning should help you move onward from Server 2003 in an organized fashion. And with end of life for Server 2003 coming in July, not much time is left. Have you started your server migration planning yet?