Windows small business server 2003If you’ve been relying on Windows Small Business Server 2003 to manage your company’s IT infrastructure, it’s time to begin investigating other options. Beginning on July 14, 2015, Microsoft will end support for the mainstay OS, and many users will be scrambling to update to a supported platform. There are several options available, but you need to be aware of the timeframe of the migration and also the potential pitfalls.

Depending on the size of your company, it can take approximately 200 days to complete a successful migration from Windows Small Business Server 2003. It can be a painstaking process, and you will need to carefully review the applications upon which you are relying to see if they will be easily supported on your new platform of choice. Even small changes in one area of your IT support system can have significant effects that reverberate throughout your ecosystem. Needless to say, no matter what path you choose it’s important to begin formulating a plan as soon as possible, lest you be exposed to security threats and bugs that will never be patched.

Windows Server 2012

Windows Server 2012 is the modern version of the platform which Microsoft is encouraging users to adopt. Although Microsoft has eliminated the dedicated small business server product line from the 2012 offerings, Windows 2012 Server is available in several variations to suit the diverse needs of Microsoft’s customers. Windows Server Essentials features Microsoft’s latest SMB 3.0 protocol, and may allow longtime users of Windows Small Business Server to retain core IT infrastructure while incorporating Microsoft’s latest advancements in SMB security, networking, and data storage. In addition, many end-users may find the transition seamless, or at least mostly trouble-free, as they will be employing applications and a platform with which they are likely already familiar. Windows Server 2012 also offers the option to integrate certain cloud-based solutions, such as collaboration with Office 365. Microsoft unveiled a sponsored whitepaper detailing what to consider when migrating to Windows Server 2012.

However, migrating to Windows Server 2012 could have important consequences for your business. Depending upon the workload you are currently putting on SBS 2003, the migration may require extensive hardware upgrades which bring costs that may not have been included in the budget. Also, If you consistently rely on 16- or 32-bit applications that have been developed in-house, it may take some time and effort to have them reconfigured for a 64-bit environment, if they can be made compatible at all.

Office 365

While Windows Server 2012 does offer the option of cloud integration, you may use the migration as an opportunity to move completely into the cloud with a product such as Office 365. This choice offers obvious benefits, such as less up-front cost for software and ease-of-access to your crucial data from any location. Many companies may, however, not be comfortable with their secure data being hosted outside of the organization.