Windows Server 2008 R2 end of support – are you ready?

Windows Server 2008 R2 end of support is set for January 14th 2020. SQL Server 2008 R2 is set for July 9th 2019. While this seems like a very long way off, the time to start planning for this is now.

Once the end-of-support date has passed, Microsoft will no longer release any security updates, leaving any systems and applications that sit on these servers open to outside threats. You will also risk being non-compliant with industry requirements, such as GDPR.

Failure to upgrade could have severe consequences

Without trying to scare you, failure to modernise your IT infrastructure could have severe consequences, as a series of high-profile incidents and data breaches over the past few years have demonstrated.

But what can we learn from these cyber attacks?

Fundamentally, you have to maintain and keep your IT infrastructure up to date to keep your business secure.

Yes, this costs money, but can you risk the alternative?

When service providers, like Microsoft, decide to change or discontinue a product, we have no choice but to act. What can be a challenge is knowing where to begin.

7 Steps to prepare for Windows Server 2008 R2 and SQL Server 2008 R2 end of support

1. Awareness

Now that the issue is on your radar, you’ll also see that this is unavoidable and may even be bigger than you can deal with alone. Start having discussions with those in your organisation who also need to be aware of this and begin to educate others about the issue.

2. Engage an expert

In order to assess the full impact of the changes, engage a consultant who can help you to understand the size and nature of the challenge ahead.

3. Analyse

Through a more detailed analysis and discovery of your IT environment, the expert consultants will make suggestions on the most appropriate way for you to proceed.

There are tools and technologies available that can evaluate your entire infrastructure. An initial asset evaluation will:

  • Find out if the hardware can cope with an upgrade
  • Discover all hidden data to see the extent of the project
  • Help you to know where the equipment is and what it holds
  • Identify what apps will or won’t work – for example are they cloud-ready
  • Identify business critical systems and applications

4. Options

Depending on the outcome of the analysis, you will find out what options are available to you. This is likely to be one of the following:

  • Upgrade existing onsite servers
  • Migrate to a cloud solution, such as Microsoft Azure

5. Find the right solution

Not every solution is going to be the same for every organisation so it’s important to find what works best for yours. Once you’ve got an understanding of what’s possible, you will fine-tune the solutions with the consultants to find the optimal approach for your business.

6. Implementation

With a final solution agreed, the next phase is implementation. It’s important here to have a detailed plan in place to protect business-critical applications and keep disruption to a minimum.

7. On-going management

Work doesn’t stop at implementation; consider what support you may need on a long-term basis to keep the new environment up to date (including security patches, bug fixes, monitoring and technical support). Whether your environment is on premise or in the cloud it’s critical to ensure your environment stays evergreen, this includes security patches, bug fixes and 24/7 proactive technical support.

Don’t underestimate the time you need

If you’re not currently making plans, now is the time to start. IT projects of this scale are not achieved overnight so it is important to start early. In some cases, it could take 12-18 months in total depending on the complexity of the project.

Many organisations are looking to transform their ways of working, introduce new ways to work more effectively and productively. There’s no reason to wait any longer. Introducing a modern IT infrastructure as part of the upgrade to the impending server changes is the perfect time to start out on this journey.

If you need help in defining the scale of your transformation project, feel free to drop me a line on LinkedIn.

Paul Ryder

Digital Services Director

Read all articles by Paul Ryder