Microsoft End of Support: What You Need to Know, Again

Last year, many companies scrambled upgrading from Server 2008 to stay in compliance. If you were one of those who had to go through this, you know the process required a ton of effort.

I spoke to several clients who had no upgrade options due to software limitations, which forced them to stay on Server 2008, at least for the immediate future. For those customers, our only choice was to recommend moving those workloads to Microsoft Azure, taking advantage of the extended support there.

The next round of end of support is right around the corner. Server 2012 R2 support ends in 2023. You must take the time to look at your assets to understand:

  • What needs to be upgraded?
  • Can it be upgraded?
  • Can it be refactored?
  • Should we just retire it?

Your options will largely depend on the kind of workloads you’re running.

First, let’s review the options and why they matter.

IT Business Leaders  working on Microsoft Azure with Desktop from office

Best Option: Modernize

Fundamentally, we recommend modernizing your workplace. Get modern and up to date by upgrading your workloads to the latest Windows desktop, server or application versions. Then, move them to a modern device or consider Azure.

System Soft Technologies can support you through each step.

If there are technical reasons why you cannot modernize your workplace, you have three options. Or you can decide to do nothing. The option you choose depends on the circumstances and needs of your organization and its users.

Here are your options, along with information for different applications.

Relocate Workloads to Azure

If you have an application or infrastructure constraint keeping you on a legacy version, you will receive extended security updates by running your workloads on the Azure platform.

IT engineer working on relocating workloads to Azure from multiple monitors in front of him

Complete an In-Place Upgrade

If time is against you or if your connectivity inhibits your move to the cloud, then, as a last resort, upgrade your Windows Server 2012 R2. Read Microsoft’s guidance here. Consider this a short-term plan until you are ready to modernize and simplify your IT.

Pay for Extended Support

Microsoft offers the option to pay for security updates. But only for those rated as “Important” or “Critical.” There is a requirement that the servers you need support for must have active software assurance before you can pay for the Extended Support Updates (ES).

Based on the number of servers you have, this is likely your most expensive way and only postpones the end of support.

Do Nothing

The sky is not falling when Microsoft support for business ends. But your systems and applications will be increasingly vulnerable to cyber risk. Your workloads will be unsupported. And help will be limited, if they fail.

In addition, you may be out of regulatory compliance with potential fines on the horizon should you choose this approach.

As the chart below shows, you’re looking at a variety of Microsoft support for business transitions during the next three years.

Windows Server In-Place Upgrades year by year screen shot

Advice for Server Workloads

Assess the environment in which your Windows Server, SQL Server or Exchange Server are running. Is it physical or virtual? It isn’t just the server operating system (OS) you need to consider, but also the applications.

The modern approach is to migrate your application workloads to a Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) or Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) environment.

The cloud is evergreen and allows you to scale up or down as needed, paying only for what you consume. Exchange Online, as part of Office 365 or Azure SQL Database, are notable examples of Microsoft’s modern approach to mainstream server applications.

If you must keep your operating system running on the same version, you can migrate your workloads to Azure and get Microsoft’s Extended Security Updates for another three years.

You can also upgrade the server(s) in your offices or datacenters to newer hardware, running the latest version of Windows Server.

However, this can be expensive when you consider the server and client access licenses, as well as the power, cooling and responsibilities of supporting your hardware. Instead, we recommend upgrading your workloads and migrating them to the cloud.

IT professionals discussing on Azure SQL database sharing tablet and laptop screen

Explore Managed Cloud Services

System Soft Technologies (SSTech) has helped hundreds of organizations move to the cloud. We have the scale, knowledge and years of experience to guide you through a successful journey.

Our managed cloud services portfolio includes:

Azure Public Cloud. And, if you’re not quite ready to make the leap, consider a phased approach.

Hybrid CloudMove what you can to the cloud now, while continuing to manage your legacy applications.

If you would like guidance on the best plan for your organization, Microsoft support for business, or support for your journey, click here to contact us. You will meet an award-winning team ready to help your organization.

About the Author: Don Bilbrey

Don Bilbrey serves as Senior Cloud Architect at System Soft Technologies. Don, a technology nerd, knows his stuff when it comes to systems and storage solutions. He’s a people person, too. He displays his humor and wit, as he energetically manages the service delivery needs of large enterprise customers.