A NEW SURVEY has found that 61 percent of businesses are still using Windows Server 2003, just four months before Microsoft pulls the plug on support.
The research from Spiceworks forms the centrepiece of its new report, "The Great IT Upgrade", which examines the economic and technical impacts of end of life (EoL) on IT departments.
Just as with Windows XP, levels of ambivalence over EoL – the point when Microsoft officially stops supporting a product, rendering it inherently unprotected and unsafe – are significantly higher than anticipated.
However, unlike with XP, which still has the second biggest market share of any operating system and shows little sign of disappearing soon, an average of £40,000 per company has been set aside for Windows Server 2003 migration-related projects, which represents a multi-billion dollar opportunity for IT vendors to sell products.
It also presents a fork in the road for companies who are thinking of migrating away from Windows altogether, perhaps to an open source platform.
"This migration will impact millions of IT professionals and nearly every technology segment including hardware, software, cloud, mobile and services," said Sanjay Castelino, VP of marketing at Spiceworks.
"IT professionals are taking steps to migrate prior to the end of life deadline and technology companies who can offer a clear, elegant migration path have a multi-billion dollar opportunity to help IT departments transition effectively."
The survey suggests that just eight percent if those questioned intended to keep Windows Server 2003 beyond EoL, but a massive 72 percent fear compatibility issues with other systems and services, should they upgrade.
Some 74 percent of those planning to migrate confirmed that they intend to move to a virtualised environment, with the vast majority naming Windows Server 2012 R2 as their target, because that is the latest version.
However in some cases, businesses may have already bought Windows Server 2008 or 2012 (R1) licences, and as such will struggle to convince their finance departments that money will need to be spent.
In spite of a frosty reception when it arrived, with compatibility problems rife, Windows Server 2003 soon caught on, so the forced upgrade is proving difficult to swallow, despite the fact that the networking world has changed beyond recognition since its launch.
But there is another incentive to upgrade as quickly as possible ahead of the July 14th EoL date. Microsoft has confirmed that it will be charging $600 per server for any extended support beyond EoL. µ
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