Microsoft made the end of life announcement for Windows Server 2003 about a year ago. While that’s no longer breaking news, it does mean that there is now less than a year to plan and implement upgrades. This is especially important when dealing with datacenter environments in heavily regulated industries like healthcare or finance because they must be running supported software to remain compliant.
Changing Your Datacenter
Over the past year, we’ve had a few clients that required migration from Windows Server 2003. There are a lot of ways to do it — it just depends on what needs your datacenter has to meet.
Since 2003, new technologies have been released that can relieve the pressure from your datacenter. The widespread adoption of cloud technologies has made it much simpler for organizations to run with less burden on their own onsite storage.
If you can shift some of your workloads to the cloud, like by using Office 365 for example, it can make your migration to Windows Server 2012 R2 simpler. One of the reasons adopting a hybrid cloud solution may be optimal for you is that if you are running Windows Server 2003, it’s very likely you’re using outdated hardware. Microsoft Azure is another cloud solution that could potentially cut out unnecessary spending in new hardware costs.
By now, your servers could be 11 years old. For starters, they probably won’t be compatible with Windows Server 2012 R2. Secondly, the sheer cost of maintenance required to keep older hardware running can and will add up fast.
According to Ken Hess from ZDNet:
You can’t get away with using a 20GB system disk and you can’t squeak by with 4GB of RAM. Both of the newer operating systems require 4GB just to run their basic services. Start with 8GB of RAM and 50GB of system disk space. As for processor power, I suggest a minimum of two CPUs.
Before you go ahead and pick out your licensing for Windows Server 2012 R2, you must decide what will be in your environment and what you can retire or offload to the cloud. From there, there are different license editions you can choose:
- Datacenter edition for highly-virtualized private cloud environments.
- Standard edition for non-virtualized or lightly virtualized environments.
- Essentials edition for small businesses with up to 25 users running on servers with up to two processors.
There is a Foundations edition as well, but that license generally only comes pre-installed with hardware. We frequently sell Datacenter and Standard editions for our clients. Datacenter will give you the right to run an unlimited number of virtual machines while a standard license only provides you the rights to run two.
If you don’t have active Software Assurance, you can purchase new volume licenses from a value-added reseller (VAR), like Mirazon, or purchase pre-installed versions on new hardware if you are updating your servers at this time as well. If you have current Software Assurance (SA), you can upgrade the software to the latest version whenever you want. Keep in mind, though, that those upgrades are only for new versions; you can’t upgrade to Datacenter if your Software Assurance coverage is on a Standard edition license.
If you want to learn more about Windows Server 2012 R2 licensing, check out Seth Rodriquez’s blog post, Windows Server 2012 R2: Price Increase for Datacenter and Other Upcoming Changes.