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Despite warnings, majority of firms still run some Windows Server 2003

Maria Korolov | July 10, 2015
Enterprises are still heavily dependent on Windows Server 2003 even though there were plenty of warnings that support is coming to an end on July 14 -- and this opens them up to security, compliance and operational risks.

the end is near sign

Enterprises are still heavily dependent on Windows Server 2003 even though there were plenty of warnings that support is coming to an end on July 14 -- and this opens them up to security, compliance and operational risks.

According to a June report covering 200 enterprise data centers totaling more than 90,000 servers, only 7 percent of enterprises were completely free of Windows Server 2003, according to Softchoice, a technology services company.

During the first half of 2015, 21 percent of servers scanned were still running on that operating system, down from 32 percent in 2014 and 43 percent the year before that.

Data center analytics company CloudPhysics reported similar results a week ago, finding that 18 percent of all Windows server virtual machines are still running on Windows Server 2003. The company looked at thousands of virtualized data centers around the globe.

At this rate, CloudPhysics predicted it will be 2018 before the number of these servers is down to a statistically insignificant level.

According to IDC analyst Al Gillen, virtualization allowed companies to stick with older operating systems for longer because they no longer had to upgrade each time they replaced their hardware.

Virtualized servers don't require updated network or display drivers -- the hypervisor abstracts the physical servers and everything connected to them.

"This has been a boon for customers who previously had to face continuous updates to keep current on both servers and system software," he said. But it also helped contribute to an estimated 3 million new Windows Server 2003 installations in 2014.

In May, another IDC brief estimated that there were 1.5 million licensed installations of Windows Server 2003 around the world.

Another survey of more than 1,300 IT managers at companies of all sizes by Spiceworks showed that only 14 percent of IT managers who had Windows Server 2003 have completed the migration. The majority, 76 percent, have either migrated partially or were still in the planning stages as of January of this year, when the survey was conducted.

And 8 percent said they don't have any plans to upgrade, even though 85 percent of those sticking with the old operating system said they had concerns with security vulnerabilities, 72 percent were worried about software compatibility, and 66 percent said they had concerns with compliance risks.

Of those who said they hadn't yet migrated, 51 percent said that the old systems were still working, 48 percent said that they didn't have time, 37 percent pointed to budget constraints, 31 percent said that software compatibility was a factor.

According to Sean Curran, director of the technology infrastructure and operations practice at West Monroe Partners, manufacturing is one example of an industry with extremely expensive custom-built software that cannot be taken offline -- but which also cannot be moved to newer hardware.

 

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