Extended support for Windows Server 2003 will be withdrawn on July 14, 2015.  After that date there will be no more patches, updates, or security updates for that old version.  If you’re still running Windows Server 2003 it is now critical to start planning to move off of it and onto a more modern platform.   With most upgrades there is usually a single path, only one way to go.  This time, for the first time, you have some choices available to you!!

Even If you’re NOT Running Windows Server 2003

Whether you use Windows Server 2003, 2008, or any of the other versions released over the past decade now may be the time to make a change, especially if you want to save money, reduce support costs, and eliminate headaches.

One of your choices is, of course, the latest version, Windows Server 2012 R2.  With over 300 features that didn’t even exist back in 2003 this is a great choice for those who wish to keep running and maintaining their own servers on their own premises.  New Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella refers to Windows Server 2012 R2 as the “Cloud OS” because you can use it to enable and enjoy all the advantages of private cloud computing.

For this migration, for the first time, you have flexible choices regarding how your future state environment will look and function.  While many think it’s a matter of choosing either on-premise Windows Server 2012 R2 or Microsoft Azure cloud services, it’s really more of a matter of how you take advantage of the hybrid cloud opportunity to combine both.

Transforming Your Data Center

According to Microsoft’s marketing, “Azure is an open and flexible cloud platform that enables you to quickly build, deploy and manage applications across a global network of Microsoft-managed datacenters. You can build applications using any language, tool or framework. And you can integrate your public cloud applications with your existing IT environment.”

It is this last point that is most important to anyone transitioning away from Windows Server 2003. Since Microsoft Active Directory can span both on-premise and cloud-based servers, it becomes easy to maintain one database of security and access rights and approach the combination as a single entity.  This, in essence, creates a “Datacenter without boundaries” in which you can burst beyond the capacity of your local service to the highly-elastic resources of Azure.  Azure also provides complete data center redundancy, a level of resilience that would cost far more if you did it yourself, which is just one illustration of the cost-effectiveness of the Azure solution.  Speed and high security make it a highly desirable place to migrate your workloads.

But which workloads?  Which should go to the Azure cloud and which to your local on-premise Windows Server 2012 R2 units?

 

 

The Migration Process – Microsoft Best Practices

Microsoft recommends a simple, yet elegant, four-step migration process:

  • Discover – Catalog your software and workloads
  • Assess – Categorize applications and workloads
  • Target – Identify the destination(s) for each of your workloads
  • Migrate – Make the actual move

A potential fifth step would be the ongoing management of your new environment to constantly assure optimum performance.

Not a surprise, this closely resembles the CloudStrategies process framework of “Discover, Adopt & Manage” in which we guide clients to discover all of the assets in their IT environment, adopt new cloud structures to accommodate each, and manage all of it with newfound ease and facility.

Turn to CloudStrategies for the experience and the expertise required to perform all of these for you.  Our experience performing many such migrations benefits your project, and you will find it far less costly than training your own people to do something they will only do once.

Targets

Discovery tends to become more extensive, and more tedious, than most anticipate it will be, but it’s crucial to be as comprehensive as possible.  Missed applications and workloads can become headaches later on. Once the entire inventory has been documented, it is important to assess the applications, the workflow related to each data entity, and potential impacts upon users from various scenarios.

The four likeliest targets for your workloads are:

  • Windows Server 2012 R2 Server running on your premises
  • Microsoft Azure
  • A Cloud OS Network, likely running on your premises
  • Office 365

Obviously, productivity and communication related activities will likely be migrated to Office 365.  This may include email moving to Microsoft Exchange Online, document management moving to SharePoint Online, and instant messaging, voice, video, and shared application communications moving to Lync Online.

Choosing between the other three targets will be determine by factors including speed, ease of migration, cost, and desired functionality.  One good example would be websites, which would be better served by the speed available from the Azure data centers, as well as the elasticity of the storage, processing power and memory which could all contribute to keeping sites responsive even during times of peak demand.

What’s YOUR Cloud Migration Strategy?

Whether migrating to cloud for the first time, migrating from an expiring platform to a new one, or migrating from one cloud service to another, turn to CloudStrategies to provide the guidance, the advice, and the assistance you need to keep your migration flawless.  Contact your CloudStrategies Advisor today to learn more.

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