Office Document Strategies Blog

Another Microsoft Server OS Reaches End of Life

Posted by Lee Kirkby on Wed, Apr 20, 2016 @ 09:04 AM

Microsoft SQL Server 2005 has reached its end of life date after 10 years of steady work.  Like previously released dates for other server products Microsoft cautions that migration to an updated platform should have already meen undertaken or should occur as soon as possible.  

With the end of support life, there will no longer be security patches, bug fixes or other enhancements released for the product.  While theoretically it is still possible to continue to use the software the risks associated with doing so increase substantially with time.

Even the Canadian Government has commented on the occurrence, "organizations running software after its end of support date may be exposed to outage, compliance and security risks.  Hardware and software compatibility issues may also arise when implementing current technologies which may not have been designed for use with SQL Server 2005."

Data shows that as much as 46 percent of the install base of SQL server products is represented by SQL 2005 indicating that the need for action is a significant issue for organizations.  The current recommended release of SQL Server is version 2014, four generations newer than 2015.  

Of course moving to a new SQL installation is not a simple task and is something which takes planning and study.  Data base admins will need to address these issues quickly and begin the work before the inevitable holes start to creep into their installations.  Figuring our which version of the upgrades available, primarlly SQL Server 2012 or 2104 are most compatible with the other software you are running will be the first step of the plan.  Not every package which requires a SQL back end is going to have been updated to run with the latest MS data base software and this always creates some issue for some organizations.  

Taking the time to test the new install, ensure the functionality required is supported is a necessity with any software server upgrade.  Working with a sandbox installation while testing your data and software is the safest way to be sure you are not going to run into major issues.  This takes resources and time, time which is rapidly going to run out for the current installations.  Beginning now, if you have not already done so is an imperative.

Unfortunately, this kind of upgrade also has budget implications, both for licensing and for labour to deal with the work involved.  It also can often involve hardware upgrades as newer server systems generally require more horsepower.  Of course if you are running ten year old server software the chances are that your hardware is also several years old, even if you have done a refresh during the lifespan of your installation.  Getting new hardware installed is a good first step and it could potentially be used as your sandbox installation for testing and then migrate to your production work.

There are tools available to help you in your planning and it is a good idea to make use of them to guide your efforts.  Microsoft offers a couple which can help.

When a significant tool like a data base server platform is shifted there is always some disruption and challenge involved.  When the platform base is no longer eligible for software support and upgrade this is aggravated.  

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Topics: Software, server software

Windows Server 2003 Support Ended

Posted by Lee Kirkby on Wed, Jul 22, 2015 @ 08:07 AM

The date has come and gone for the end of Microsoft support for Windows Server 2003.  July 14th was the announced last date for security patches to be provided for this highly successful server software.  It has been predicted that as many as half of Canadian firms still have at least one server operating with the 2003 server software.  

With the end of regular security releases the potential for some sort of breach on these servers to occur increases over time.  The warnings have been out for some time but now action is needed. Those players who seem to take joy in finding ways to hack people's systems or who wish to attempt penetration for nefarious purposes will put greater effort into find vulnerabilities in the Server 2003 platform since they know that those vulnerabilities can be long lived without regular corrections.

Since 2003 was such a popular installation the numbers of potential targets are still large, unless companies (you?) take action now to replace the 2003 Server with an alternative.

Of course this becomes a time for upgrade.  Given that 2003 Server is over twelve years old, a lot has happened since its release and therefore there are many potential gains to be had with installing newer server software to be the backbone of your systems.

Probably the best bet if you are able is to jump to Windows Server 2012 R2 the current release of Microsoft.  There are many robust new features available in this platform that you can use to enhance your operations.  Of course one of the first things you need to know is whether your other line of business applications are supported on the platform.  If not then you may have to consider other solutions.

It is still possible to install Windows Server 2008 which was the release after 2003 but obviously it is not going to offer all of the latest enhancements nor will that installation likely have as long a life cycle as moving to the more recent release.  The one benefit is that many more line of business applications are going to have been rewritten to match up with this version of the server software simply because it is so much later in its life cycle.  Most currently offered packages will have been upgraded to this level for some time now and any bugs or issues should be well ironed out.

The biggest challenge for some companies may be if they have custom developed packages requiring the 2003 server software and there may be the need to reprogram or find new alternatives to be able to move on.  Given the inevitability of eventually having to replace the server making the changes now as soon as possible makes a lot of sense rather than investing more effort in anything based on running Server 2003. Of course doing this is not going to be easy but it can be accomplished with effort and planning.

Part of the challenge for migrating is making the decision on what to go to.  For many companies this involves a decision on whether to remain on their own servers or to move to a hosted or cloud environment.  both of these options have value but bring a whole new set of concerns to address before final changes are made.  When the decision makers are less comfortable with IT needs or lack in house skills to conduct assessments it makes it even harder to decide.  Servers have become the core of many business operations and no one wants to gamble on their operation.  This is where knowledgeable help is often needed.

If your decisions are not made by now, you are already behind the curve and will have to put some real effort into catching up.  Unlike workstation operating systems, server operating systems have a much larger overall impact on a business and it is much harder to isolate them from the network environment. When XP support was ended some systems might be taken off the network and still used for a while.  For a server this is almost impossible since the whole reason for a server is to facilitate centralization and interaction between users on the network it supports.

Windows Server 2003 has done its work for a long time and with great reliability and results for thousands of users. Its time has come.  It is time for it to have a rest and be replaced.

Lee K

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Photo:  Windows Server 2003 logo trademark of Microsoft Corporation.

 

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Topics: server software, IT network, network security

US Homeland Security Warns About Windows Server 2003 EOS

Posted by Lee Kirkby on Wed, Apr 1, 2015 @ 08:04 AM

I read a really interesting post today by of all things the US Department of Homeland Security.  Now I have to admit that I am not a regular reader of their material but this one has some really good information that can affect millions of users of Windows Server 2003.

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Topics: network server, cloud computing, server software, network security

Time Is Running Out On Windows 2003 Server

Posted by Lee Kirkby on Wed, Feb 4, 2015 @ 07:02 AM

Like Windows XP last year, Microsoft has announced the impending end for Windows Server 2003 with support stopping July 14 2015.  What this means is that Microsoft will no longer issue security and bug updates for this server platform effective this coming July.  

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Topics: server software, IT network, IT support

5 Business Process Challenges That Could Have Been Avoided

Posted by Lee Kirkby on Wed, Sep 10, 2014 @ 11:09 AM

One of the frustrations we experience is when we see clients doing things that could have been avoided with a little consultation in advance and with some pre planning.  Since our role is helping clients to avoid issues with their critical business documents, when we see them facing problems we know could have been solved with some simple and early action, it is frustrating.

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Topics: network server, document filing, document storage strategy, document management, server software, network backup, business processes, data security

6 Month Deadline For Support For Microsoft Windows XP & 2003 Software

Posted by Lee Kirkby on Wed, Dec 4, 2013 @ 08:12 AM

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Topics: Computer, Software, network server, Windows 8, server software, IT network, network security

Burlington Office IT Co. Finds Blackberry Z10 Active Sync Solution

Posted by Ian Leppert on Thu, Aug 29, 2013 @ 08:08 AM

  New Blackberry Z10 Deployment:

Recently our company decided to refresh our mobile phones. We needed a smart phone that would work well with both our field based Technical and Sales teams. We were an existing Blackberry account so after careful review we decided familiarity for users and a patriotic sense of 'Oh Canada' would lead us to adopt the new Blackberry Z10 series phones.

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Topics: technology tools, e-mail, Software, server software, IT network, IT support

Pick The Right Document Management System to Meet Your Needs

Posted by Adrian Smele on Thu, Jun 13, 2013 @ 07:06 AM

There are hundreds of different document management systems that you can choose from when you decide to organize your filing into a structured system.  We often get clients asking us how they decide which one works for them without going crazy and taking way too much time researching to be worth the effort?

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Topics: document filing, document management, server software, Hosted document management, docucapture, Document

Degrees of Cloud For Your IT Network

Posted by Lee Kirkby on Fri, Nov 30, 2012 @ 09:11 AM

A traditional IT network is made up of a collection of servers, workstations, desktops and increasingly, mobile devices.  There will be printers, internal wiring, wireless routers, switches and some sort of backup capability.  This is commonly a USB drive in smaller systems and may include off site data storage over a remote connection in more sophisticated installs.

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Topics: Computer, Software, network server, cloud computing, server software, Hosted document management, network backup, IT network, IT support

Cloud Computing A Hot Topic in IT Network Design

Posted by Lee Kirkby on Mon, May 7, 2012 @ 05:05 AM

The hottest topic in IT network design seems to be Cloud Computing.  So what is this?  What is meant by cloud computing?

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Topics: Computer, Software, software tools, document management, server software, internet connectivity in Canada, Hosted document management, docucapture