Microsoft Windows Server 2008 End of Support: What Alternatives?

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At the end of its life, Windows Server 2008 no longer benefits from any support from Microsoft. But there are still some options to continue using the OS.

Between the cloud, the setting

Normally, Windows Server 2008 end of support involves upgrading to a newer version of Microsoft’s server OS. But CIOs have other options, including continuing to run Windows Server on-premises or migrating to the cloud. If you are still running workloads on Windows Server 2008, rest assured: you are not alone. In July 2019, at the Inspire Partner Conference, Microsoft executives estimated that 60% of Windows servers were still running Windows Server or SQL Server 2008. Technological changes introduced in the Windows Server 2012 release ended compatibility. applications, causing some users to postpone any upgrades.

For companies that have kept Windows Server 2008, the end of support will be fully effective from Patch Tuesday in February, with Microsoft delivering a security update on January 14, the last day of support. On the support web pages, the publisher clearly indicates that it will no longer provide patches for the operating system. But there are nuances. Microsoft’s server products begin life with “Mainstream Support”, which includes security and feature updates. For Windows Server 2008, this support ended in 2015, followed the following year by the end of support for Windows Server 2008 R2. Since then, both of these versions of Windows Server 2008 have benefited from what Microsoft calls “extended support,” which includes only security updates. This support gives organizations approximately three more years to update to a newer version of Windows Server.

Extended support and Azure migration

Even today, with the end of this extended support, Windows Server 2008 is not completely out of the game. Businesses that want to keep the operating system a little longer can sign up for Microsoft’s Extended Security Update program and receive patches for an additional three years, for an annual fee that costs around 75% of the price of. License. Microsoft calls this paid option a “last resort”. Because after that, it will really be the end of the day. Another way to get extended security updates is by moving Windows Server 2008 workloads on-premises to Microsoft’s Azure cloud, and running them as is on a VM or managed instance. For businesses that pay for the provider’s hosting service, Microsoft says it will offer three years of free security updates.

Other cloud migrations and license transfers

Amazon Web Services offers another solution: migrate workloads to its cloud instead of migrating them to Azure, and at the same time upgrade to a newer version of Windows. Its End-of-support Migration Program (EMP) for Windows Server decouples applications from the underlying operating system, wrapping them in a compatibility layer that redirects calls to new ones. API. The software that enables this redirection is free, but AWS or its partners will charge a fee to evaluate and repackage apps – and of course, host them in the AWS cloud. However, companies moving on-premises workloads to clouds other than Azure should carefully review their contracts. Indeed, last October, Microsoft changed its rules, forcing customers who transfer Windows licenses on-premises in the clouds of certain vendors to pay Software Assurance fees and additional mobility rights. Faced with these cloud and licensing costs, CIOs will need to appreciate the benefits they can derive from abandoning unreliable legacy hardware on which their applications run.

The conventional upgrade

The conventional route of upgrading Windows Server 2008 to a still supported version remains. The process is done in several stages. First, you have to upgrade to Windows Server 2012. The “Mainstream” support for this version is already out of date, and extended support will only be available until 2023. After this date, it will be necessary to upgrade to Windows Server 2016 , whose “Mainstrean Support” is provided until the end of the year 2022, then to Windows Server 2019 which enjoys full support until 2024. Companies running the R2 version of Windows Server 2008 can skip a step and go directly to Windows Server 2019 from Windows Server 2012 R2. Microsoft’s documentation on this process helps to understand why so many companies have decided to keep the old operating system, given that not all server roles and applications are supported in recent versions, and that Careful planning of the update process is necessary to avoid unpleasant surprises. Update, migrate, extend support, or do nothing? Only a careful assessment of the specific situation of each company can help them make the right decision.

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