Windows Server 2003 – Migration Tips

Part of the furniture in many IT departments for over 10 years, you need to finalise plans for migration. The 12 month countdown has begun.  Windows Server 2003 End of Life is coming on 14th July 2015. No more updates, security non-compliance and loss of applications support. For most businesses, the replacement path will be to Windows Server 2012, or 2012R2. With 64 bit technology (rather than 32) the changes are fundamental. It’s an opportunity to explore where you really want to be in terms of hardware, systems and architecture – but you need to get a move on!

Microsoft has been encouraging businesses to plan their migration for some years but research suggests that there are still 10 million machines running Windows Server 2003.

There is plenty of good information and advice on the net for those looking at this issue. I particularly liked a joint video on the Register with inputs from Microsoft, HP, and Intel. It includes useful tips and FAQs as well as advice on free tools to benchmark your existing situation.

Focus has a comprehensive schedule of Windows Server 2012 training courses. They run in London, Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds, Glasgow and 10 other cities across the UK. Many are also available as virtual classes you can join from your office or home. Over the next 6 months we have over 450 events scheduled. The most popular courses are:-

M20417 Upgrading your Skills to MCSA Windows Server 2012

M20410 Installing and Configuring Windows Server 2012

M20411 Administering Windows Server 2012

M20412 Configuring Advanced Windows Server 2012 Services

Below we list below our own top tips for Windows Server 2003 migration:

Define your current servers, applications and services
– How many Windows Server 2003 systems you have on your network
– Collect CPU, memory, disk space and utilisation information

Decommission systems that are no longer required for business
– There’s no point in keeping unused, replaced, or retired systems
– Microsoft cites one example where a business found one third of its servers were not required

Define current and future service requirements
– Ensure you are not simply configuring systems to serve historic requirements
– Integrate your transition planning with broader development plans for hardware and software

Explore the options
– Use existing hardware if its viable – but be careful if its life is likely to be limited
[the 2012 operating systems require 4GB just to run their basic services]
– Don’t assume like for like replacement
– Consolidate services where practical
– Consider virtual machine and cloud based solutions

Train the Team
– Don’t rely on old hands muddling through
– Take the opportunity to upgrade skills of old and new team members

Treat each application as a small project in its own right
– Create a series of mini plans for each aspect of the migration
– Don’t forget to take full account of the interactions

Protect your data
– Undertake a structured risk analysis
– Perform a full back-up
– Attach SAN to VMs as well as physical systems to avoid loss of data

Utilise the various migration tools available
– Microsoft offer a suite of migration tools including:

Active Directory
IP Configuration

Structured close-out
– Validate services on your VMs or new physical systems
– Decommission and remove old systems
– New server inventory and utilisation assessment
– User feedback