END OF MICROSOFT SUPPORT for Windows Server 2003/R2, so you still have time to explore your options, but don’t leave it too long.
Upgrading to Windows Server 2012 will require you to consider new server hardware, which comes at a cost. Before you invest in more on premise hardware, it would be right for most law firms now to consider whether the time is right to move your IT infrastructure to an externally hosted data centre to improve security, business continuity and support.
This is the trend in law firms and business generally as businesses struggle to deal effectively with the complexity of maintaining IT systems when it would be more effective to spend that time developing the business.
Why the need to consider options now?
Just as you find some breathing space after upgrading your law firm’s personal computers and throwing away all those old Windows XP licences, Microsoft has another date for your diary – July 14, 2015 (yes, this year!). This is the end of Microsoft support for Windows Server 2003/R2. It’s not that far off and experience shows that any upgrade or migration of this nature needs good planning and preparation.
You can, of course, take a chance and stay with Server 2003 until it breaks but here’s why you shouldn’t:
- No Updates – from July 15th onwards Microsoft will not develop or release any updates or patches to Windows Server 2003. Any new security threats arising after this date will not be addressed and this puts your firm and clients at risk if you continue to run Server 2003;
- Compliance – Your legal practice operates under SRA regulation including requirements on security and privacy of data. Whilst the SRA may not express a view specifically on this Server 2003 issue you can be sure that any incidents that arise due to failure to upgrade will leave you at risk of breaching these requirements. Compliance is about validating and ensuring that your systems are viable, secure and risk free, ensuring that the confidential data that you hold for your clients will be safe and secure.
- Competitive advantage – if you’re using older technology than your competitors it’s likely that you’re missing out. How quickly can you add new systems? Setup new staff? New offices? Can you offer solid remote working to attract the best staff? Can you give your clients what they are asking for?
But it’s not all negative. There are many benefits and opportunities to come out of an upgrade to your IT infrastructure.
Or you may choose to take advantage of the many hosted and managed services that have reached maturity in the past 10 years whilst your Server 2003 assets have been painfully sweated.
Server 2012 provides enhancements far beyond the capabilities of Server 2003 for example:
- Much better and simpler remote access to systems, data and email;
- More storage options;
- Increased security;
- Better and easier management and automation;
Now is the time to start thinking about how you are going to address this opportunity, what route you will take, the resources that you will need and the results you can expect.
In short, you have 3 options and one of those isn’t really an option:
- Leave it as it is. It generally works and you may feel you have other priorities, but there are risks with this;
- Replace your old with new; on-premise hardware and software with the latest Server 2012 and new hardware to run it on. You can be pretty sure that your old server hardware won’t work.
- Migrate to a cloud or hosted solution, where the hosting company infrastructure will incorporate the upgrade anyway so you don’t have to think about it.
Get in touch with Frank Manning on 07778 572420 or at email@example.com to talk about whether you should be looking towards on-premise, in the cloud or a combination of both on a hybrid platform.
We can help you to make the right decisions from the beginning – as experience shows that’s where it can all start to get messy.