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Windows Server 2003 End Of Support Help


Server 2003’s end of support deadline is approaching quickly. If you haven’t already migrated to a new solution, you either will be soon, or you will be sweating it come July 14, 2015. Our goal is to inform and educate you on some of the more pressing issues of server 2003’s end of life.

Server Vulnerability

Security threats and vulnerabilities are the most obvious reasons to switch. When the end of life is reached you will no longer receive the much needed security patches and updates and your critical servers will be vulnerable. This process can happen on a daily basis. That means your data is no longer hosted on a secure platform. Software vulnerabilities and glitches are discovered every day and without those patches your system will be defenseless against them.

Compliance Failure

For the healthcare industry, July 14, 2015 actually marks a day of non-compliance. If you do not upgrade to a supported software, you could be subject to large civil penalties. Anyone dealing in data security, or personal information will seriously need to shift their migration status to high gear this month in order to meet federal regulations. (HIPAA, PCI, HITECH)

What are my options?

Security is very important and we don’t believe it is worth it to risk the financial burden it carries. The costs of upgrading to a new system will be a drop of water in the civil penalty lake that is HIPAA or PCI Compliance. That is the bad news, but the good news is great. Small businesses have a couple reasonable options to fix this issue.

Option #1

The traditional method for server hosting is to keep things hosted in-house, where your file access, Sharepoint, and Exchange server is 100% managed by you. This option requires a fairly large investment in equipment and licensing. The infographic below demonstrates one way to achieve the necessary functionality for your business.

In House HIPAA Hosting

As you can see the logistics for setting up an in-house network like this can be extensive. However, some of these features may not be necessary for all small businesses. Those businesses that utilize these features have a clear advantage over those who don’t. Any companies with 10-20+ employees might struggle without the use of Outlook, or Sharepoint functions.

Because this option offers the highest level of customization and versatility, you will most likely need Managed IT Services to maintain backups, updates, and trouble shooting. The option of hosting all of your data and software is a huge benefit when performing onsite data backup, or adding storage space to existing servers. We believe that Microsoft will soon offer cloud-based software subscriptions as the only means for Microsoft Office, Sharepoint, and Exchange in the future. If you favor control over the access of your files, and strict file access policies, in house hosting is the answer for you.

Option #2

The next viable option is to configure a partial hosting set up where your Active Directory is locally stored in your server rack with Server 2012 Essentials, and the rest of the ground work is supported by Microsoft Office 365 and the Microsoft servers. All your files are saved to Microsoft’s servers.

HIPAA Compliant File Hosting

By letting Microsoft host your information and paying a subscription fee, there is less up front cost and slightly less control. Again, if compliance is an issue you may have to implement option #1 to prevent any future fines or issues.

There are options out there to fit your company’s needs. You may need to enlist the help of a Managed IT Services provider during the installation and setup of the hardware in order to fully take advantage of your equipment. When you consider the long term operations of your business, it is easy to see why upgrading to a supported server OS is so important. Your company is unique and it should be treated as such. Find out all the fine-tuned features you need and you can choose the best server solution for your company.