What Are The Best Alternatives To Windows Server 2003?

Windows Server 2003 will officially stop being supported on July 14, 2015.

Have you started thinking about what you’re going to replace it with?

Like most IT companies, we are receiving queries regarding the ‘end of life’ for Windows Server 2003.Unfortunately, for those companies that are still operating Windows Server 2003 you will be impacted come July 2015 and even though it is still some time away, transitioning a business server requires more IT planning than just transitioning desktop computers.

To assist in the IT planning stage, itconnexion have presented below a few options to help you make an informed decision. So what can you transition your old Windows 2003 server to?

Option 1 – Windows Server 2012

If your business needs to stay on a Windows-based operating system, there is only one clear solution: Windows Server 2012.

This 2012 edition offers many compelling reasons to pick from for your server upgrade. The new Dynamic Access Control has improved the security and management of sensitive data. The introduction of Dynamic virtual storage provisioning allows the distribution of storage space on an on-demand basis, meaning you make far more efficient use of your virtual storage capabilities. Most importantly, Microsoft has fully embraced virtualisation with Hyper-V Replica to make disaster recovery a much simpler task.

Ultimately, for many companies, this will be the best bet, as it allows your organisation to carry on much as it used to, only with more features and efficiency. Like most modern software, this edition requires modern day hardware to power the operating system. If you are still running on an old server, you will need to invest in a new server. Occasionally, hardware vendors such as HP and IBM offer bundles that represent significant savings. Therefore, it pays to plan the transition early.

Option 2 – Transition to a Cloud Solution

Cloud storage has pros that are the exact opposite of traditional servers. In order to utilise public cloud servers for storage and file sharing, you will be giving up a large portion of control in exchange for smooth operations. Public cloud storage allows you to not have to worry about buying server space, maintaining security, provisioning file space, or any of the other tasks that owning a server usually entails. The cloud storage provider will be responsible for security, for determining how access is granted, and where people can access the server from. You also gain flexibility. Many cloud storage services allow you to ramp services up and down to keep up with real–time demand. In fact, some will even do the automatic provisioning for you.

Downsides of cloud storage and sharing solutions are the loss of control that such a solution entails. You also have to worry about the cloud storage provider becoming a victim of cybercrime attacks. While most cloud service providers are much more security savvy than most small business IT teams, they are also much more likely to be seen as targets by hackers and other malicious elements.

Ultimately, each solution to the problem of file sharing and storage has its own pros and cons. Which works best for your business largely depends on your needs and your capabilities: a file server for companies with an IT budget to spend but a need for privacy, extra security, and, perhaps, their own special server build, or cloud storage for companies that don’t mind giving up a large measure of control in exchange for cost savings in IT management and technology.

Option 3 – Linux

The more modern and user-friendly relative of Unix, Linux comes in many varieties, and powers most large servers in use today. Linux-based systems can be categorised into two main camps: commercial, and open-source or free.

Commercial, as the name implies, is sold or licensed for money to businesses. Commercial varieties of Linux often contain proprietary code that extends the functionality of the base operating system, and often includes support from the company that is distributing it.

Open-source, or free, varieties also often have added functionality and features, but are built and maintained by a community that grants users full access to the underlying code to make modifications as they will. Free versions of Linux rarely have any kind of support, besides what can be found in their online communities, though many teams that put out free Linux versions do offer special support for a fee.

Linux has the advantage in that it provides much of the power and flexibility of Unix, but in a much more user-friendly package. It’s also very commonly used, making finding an administrator much easier. It also manages to keep much of the stability of Unix, and so requires much less maintenance than similar Windows-based machines. Unfortunately, it also carries over some of the faults of Unix. For example, Windows programs will not work in a Linux environment. That means switching to Linux will require finding new ways for your employees to do their daily tasks. This is partially made up for by the significantly lower operating cost of a Linux server. 

We can help you!

In case you’re still unsure about the process or if you need further assistance, feel free to give us a call or drop us an email. Our team of experts will be sure to offer a helping hand.

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