To those of you that read our article last month in the Valley Business Journal, welcome back for Part 2! For those that have not read in—last month we discussed Microsoft transitioning Windows 7 to End of Support, meaning that the operating system will no longer receive updates. Consequently, workstations or laptops running Windows 7 need to be upgraded to the latest version of Windows-Windows 10, or replaced entirely.
This month we are covering the same topic, but from the server side of things—End of Support for Windows Server 2008, 2008 R2, and SQL Server 2008. What does all that mean for you? Potentially—quite a lot!
To recap—End of Support means that Microsoft is going to stop “supporting” the operating systems listed above. What that essentially means is that Microsoft will no longer be providing updates (often referred to as patches) for those operating systems. On that surface that might seem like a good thing: “You mean my IT guy isn’t going to have to reboot the server any more to install updates? Awesome!”—it actually produces the opposite reaction in your average IT professional. One of the major reasons that patches are pushed out to operating systems is to plug security holes that have been identified in them. Once those patches stop happening, more and more security exploits remain vulnerable on older infrastructure. That means that a malicious actor has a much easier time gaining entry into a given system and once inside can wreak havoc on the business that depends on that infrastructure.
Now, one might be wondering why an operating system from 2008 is still in wide-enough use that Microsoft has to end support for it. Much like Windows 7, the stability and compatibility of the Server 2008 operating system made it very widely deployed and it is still in production in any number of environments. Although the upgrade process is not without hurdles, it doesn’t necessarily have to be painful and business interruptive, given enough planning. Microsoft has given January 14th, 2020 as the official End of Support date for Windows 7, Server 2008, and SQL Server 2008. This means that from this moment, businesses have a little less than a year to complete a transition to a newer operating system. Depending on the roles that a given server needs to fulfill, transitioning it to a new operating system may be as simple as moving some files and folders over, or as complex as moving an entire database.
Proper planning of the migration to the new environment will help to limit the amount of downtime that any server migration will cause, prevent data-loss, and ensure that permissions are replicated over as they existed in the previous environment. A migration of this type can also be an excellent opportunity to engage IT personnel in performing audits of currently deployed infrastructure. Oftentimes server roles can be consolidated during a move, eliminating the need for some physical or virtual hardware.
Permissions groups can be established that allow users to be moved into and out of groups that grant them permissions to folder structures, rather than this being done on an individual basis. Indeed, a migration to a newer operating system should not be seen as a chore, but as an opportunity.
In summation, Microsoft has given businesses and consumers a firm deadline after which Windows 7 and Server 2008 will no longer be supported. It is imperative that both businesses and the average consumer eliminate these operating systems from their environments prior to this date, as the lack of continued support opens an enormous security hole. Although a server migration to a newer environment can entail a lot of work and carries with it the potential for downtime, it should also be seen as an opportunity to correct any Band-Aid fixes that had been applied previously, consolidate roles and infrastructure, and audit the environment for a best-practice implementation. Should you have concerns that your environment contains aging equipment running Windows 7 or Server 2008, contact an IT professional soon so that you can put a plan into place well before the January 2020 deadline.
Mythos Technology is an IT consulting and management firm that provides Managed Technology Services including hosted cloud solutions. For more information, please visit www.mythostech.com