Microsoft offers multiple cloud- and premises-based upgrade options for Windows Server OS.
The end-of-support deadline for the Windows Server 2008 and 2008 R2 is rapidly approaching. After Jan. 14, 2020, Microsoft will no longer provides automatic fixes, updates or online technical assistance, nor will it fix any vulnerabilities discovered after this date.
The approaching deadline will have broad implications considering these server operating systems have played a central role in many organizations’ IT infrastructure for the last decade. It’s estimated that nearly half of Microsoft’s server installed base, representing nearly 20 million servers, is still running these operating systems.
The risks involved with using Windows Server 2008 and 2008 R2 are likely to increase substantially after the end-of-support date. Hackers will specifically target systems in order to exploit unpatched vulnerabilities. Additionally, organizations will likely encounter hardware compatibility issues, and key business applications may become unsupported. As a result, organizations could find themselves in violation of legal and regulatory obligations.
Perhaps the simplest upgrade path is through the cloud. Microsoft has created a straightforward upgrade path to Azure, the company’s suite of cloud-based services and applications. Azure provides access to enterprise-grade tools that drive innovation without the cost of installing and managing on-premises infrastructure.
For organizations looking to maintain an on-premises solution, Microsoft is offering an in-place upgrade path to Windows Server 2019 — but it won’t be simple. There’s not a direct path. Instead, it will require multiple upgrades, first to Server 2012, then to Server 2016 and finally to Server 2019.
It is possible to upgrade to the still-supported 2012 or 2016 versions. Of the two, Server 2016 is more attractive due to a host of cloud-like benefits. According to Microsoft, the Server 2016 architecture has been “deeply refactored” to create tight integration with its cloud platform.
Like Server 2016, Windows Server 2019 also makes significant chunks of the Azure code available on premises. This means developers can build applications that can run either in the data center or in the Azure public cloud. Other enhancements include gateways for connecting to Azure and other remote sites and a converged network fabric supporting both remote direct memory access (RDMA) and tenant traffic.
The Azure influence is evident in other cloud-inspired networking enhancements. A scalable network controller allows workloads to be deployed and maintained with many networking policies available within seconds. Networks can be dynamically segmented based on workload requirements using a distributed firewall, and network security groups can apply rich policies within and across those segments.
Another cloud-focused feature is Windows Containers, which delivers advanced support for microservices and application containers. In this approach, apps are broken down into small bits of code that perform a single function, such as routing traffic, and then packaged in lightweight and portable containers that provide access to the CPU, memory, block I/O and network resources of the host operating system. This drives developer productivity and agility by allowing application code changes to move from development to production in minutes, enabling real-time change.
The new OS also features software-defined capabilities across storage, networking and compute that help reduce costs and increase agility. New security features help address evolving threats and new threat vectors, and enhanced toolsets enable automated deployment and management of workloads across their entire lifecycle.
“Running Windows Server 2008 or 2008 R2 after support ends creates significant security and compliance risks,” said Don Gulling, CEO, Verteks. “The Verteks teams is here to help you determine the best path forward and implement a server solution that will take your business into the future.”