12th May 2015 by GCI

Businesses urged to plan ahead as Windows Server 2003 nears end of life

As Windows Server 2003 rapidly approaches end of life on July 14th, it is estimated that two thirds of businesses are still unprepared for the change, leaving many exposed to critical security threats.


Hailed as one of the most widely used operating systems in the world at the time of release, the Windows 2003 application became one of the biggest product launches in Microsoft history. Over ten years later, businesses are still relying on the ageing Windows 2003 operating system to host business critical applications and unless migration to an alternative platform takes place data security could be compromised.

With the migration to new operating systems estimated to take 3 months or more, many businesses are being urged to plan ahead- or face the consequences. Whilst many are expected to move to the Cloud or another operating system, up to 63% are unsure on what steps to take and what it means for their business.

What does end of life mean?

From July 14th Microsoft will terminate the release of security patches and updates hosted on the operating system, resulting in IT systems becoming a target for hackers, viruses and malware attacks. Businesses will also be unable to access the most up to date applications that ensure the smooth operation of day to day processes. Furthermore businesses could be at risk from:

Data security breaches will result in organisations failing to meet industry wide compliance standards. The consequence of this is not only a loss of reputation, but also penalties. It has been anticipated that a change to existing EU legislation could see organisations fined five per cent of their annual turnover or up £780,000 if they are found guilty of security breaches after the introduction of the law in 2016.

No updates:
The loss of updates to fix vulnerabilities, performance issues and bugs could leave your business susceptible to mass electronic data loss and malicious attacks as critical issues remain unnoticed. For example in 2013, 37 critical updates were released for Windows Server, could you afford to not control this?

Compatibility issues:
Without the transition to a new operating system, businesses face failing compliance audits. Furthermore, any future updates in software or hardware will not integrate with the Windows Server 2003 platform. Sticking with this server means compatibility will be an issue.

Maintenance costs:
Running old servers can be extremely expensive. Advanced detection systems and firewalls would be needed to protect the vulnerable Windows 2003 operating system therefore ageing hardware means increased cost and management.

What’s your next move?

With less than 100 days to go until end of life, it is critical that businesses start to plan now. It is estimated up to 90% of businesses will be in the Cloud by the end of 2015, so don’t get left behind.

Whilst there are many benefits of moving to the Cloud, where IT is concerned up to a 20% reduction in costs has been reported by some organisations who migrated to Cloud computing.

Hosted Desktop with GCI

Consider GCIs Hosted Desktop service as an alternative to Windows 2003.

Hosted Desktop is a fully featured Windows 8 style application delivered from the Cloud, allowing users to experience a fast, reliable and secure desktop experience from any device, anywhere.

Features of Hosted Desktop include:

  • Secure, instant access to files applications and email from almost any location.
  • Securely located in GCIs IS027001 data centres
  • Continuous monitoring of the application by GCI to identify and remove virus and malware.
  • Fixed monthly fee per user
  • Eliminate capital expenditure on servers, network technology and software
  • Eliminate upgrades and maintenance costs on internal hardware and software
  • GCI can work with you to deploy customised or bespoke applications.