How to Help Customers Who Still Need to Migrate from Windows Server 2003

As a service provider, you understand the significance of the Microsoft Windows Server 2003 end-of-support deadline, but do your customers?

May 27, 2015

4 Min Read
How to Help Customers Who Still Need to Migrate from Windows Server 2003

By Insight Guest Blog 1

As a service provider, you understand the significance of the Microsoft Windows Server 2003 end-of-support deadline, but do your customers?

Some of them are putting off the necessary migration, and it’s critical that you educate them on the implications of doing so. From outlining the urgency of the situation to helping them address the most critical servers and applications, here’s how you can best serve customers who need immediate help with a Microsoft Windows Server 2003 migration.

Assist Customers in Understanding the Urgency

Do your customers truly understand the risks? Facing the reality of no more support, no security updates and risk of breaches, the dangers of ignoring the deadline include:

  • Putting entire document libraries and applications at risk

  • Absorbing the increased cost of maintaining servers and aging hardware

  • Failing to meet industry compliance standards

  • Dealing with the increased risk of corrupted data and unsupported applications

  • Downtime

Despite the fact that your customers have less than two months until the end-of-support deadline, they won’t find themselves upstream without a paddle if you help them act fast. The key to getting them to move quickly is education.

Ensure that they’re aware that taking stock of what they have, in as much detail as possible, is critical to a seamless migration. We’ve seen scenarios in which a company has moved one server and it ended up impacting another. Because the connection was severed, the servers suddenly wouldn’t work. Rushing this process without a plan is going to result in unforeseen issues–many of which can be damaging to the business.

Encourage Organizations to Plan for the Immediate Future

At Insight, we rank the server environment, prioritizing high-risk servers above medium- and low-priority servers. After ranking the servers, we develop a timeline that migrates the most at-risk servers before the deadline and addresses those that are not at a high risk after Windows Server 2003 support has ended. It’s critical that you help your customers decide which business imperatives they want to address first.

It’s also important that you map everything out. Help your customers understand what interacts with what, when and how, as well as what users are accessing which systems. During this process, you may uncover that a low-priority server interacts with a high-risk server, and that migrating only the high-priority environment would break an important connection. Servers talk to each other, and you have to move them all at the same time; otherwise, you’ll close their connection.

And just because the deadline is fast approaching, it doesn’t mean that a migration should be executed at any given moment. Help your customers map the servers that are going to be moved to the change window that corresponds with the most minimal usage of that application.

Prior to migration, one of the steps in the planning process that shouldn’t be ignored is verifying application compatibility and developing a remediation plan. You’ll also need to understand how the applications work with each other, as you’ll need to move them together. Make your customers aware that, without thorough planning, they could be left with inoperative business-critical apps.

Support Customers with Monitoring and Contingency Plans

At Insight, we run post-migration monitoring for up to 48 hours. After completing the server migration, we’ll also outline a transition protocol, and our team makes sure that there’s an effortless conversion.

You may find that certain applications aren’t compatible after you’ve transitioned your customers to a new operating system. If that occurs, you should buy extended support from Microsoft before doing anything else. This will give you more time to determine the best approach, and it will allow your customer to continue to run the application.

From there, the options are:

  • Assessing if updated or newer versions are available, and won’t interrupt operations.

  • Leveraging a comparable product that offers similar functionality, selecting an option that allows you to import existing data.

  • Continuing to run the app on Windows Server 2003 if the application is critical to the business and there isn’t a clear replacement or upgrade.

Depending on your customer’s needs, it’s likely that additional contingency plans will need to be developed.

Once the high-risk servers and business-critical apps have been migrated, you can help your customers migrate their medium- and low-priority environments and applications.

The deadline for Windows Server 2003 end of life is quickly approaching, but that doesn’t mean your clients should migrate on the fly. Having a well-built plan is the surest way to keep organizational stability, keep users productive and influence mass adoption of the new system. With the condensed timeline before the deadline, focusing on the critical apps and high-priority servers is the most effective way to provide careful planning while still being able to migrate on time.

David Mayer is a technology sales manager with more than 15 years of experience in sales and sales management of application and infrastructure solutions. As the practice director for Microsoft solutions, he leads a team of practice leaders in technical strategy and pre-sales support for Insight’s consulting services for Microsoft. Insight has sold more than 7 million business and public sector client cloud seats across the globe. With approximately 5,400 teammates worldwide, Insight is ranked No. 483 on the 2014 Fortune 500 and generated sales of $5.3 billion for the year ended Dec. 31, 2014.




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