On October 10, 2023, Microsoft will stop providing extended support for Windows Server 2012, and its successor, Windows Server 2012 R2. This puts pressure on the organizations still using these servers to upgrade or migrate to a modern alternative, in order to maintain a secure, stable and high-performance IT infrastructure.
Based in Fredericksburg, Virginia, Infinity Technologies provides high-quality IT support and managed services to SMBs across the region. We help our clients plan for the future, with strategic guidance that foresees the challenges and identifies the opportunities that lie ahead. For many small businesses, one of these challenges includes the imminent end of support for Windows Server 2012. If your business is still using this technology to host your critical applications and services, it’s important that you explore a suitable replacement now!
This article explores why Microsoft is ending support for Windows Server 2012, explains why ignoring the end-of-support deadline is not an option, and suggests a few alternatives that you can consider to keep your IT up-to-date and secure.
Why is Support for Windows Server 2012 Ending?
Microsoft offers its products under the “fixed lifecycle policy.” This policy is designed to give businesses a clearly defined product support timeline from the moment of launch. This approach gives business owners and IT departments time to plan for the upgrade and replacement of aging services well in advance of support ceasing.
In the majority of cases, Microsoft aims to offer at least 10 years of support for its products: at least 5 years of “mainstream support,” and at least 5 years of “extended support.” During the mainstream support period, Microsoft essentially continues to develop the product introducing new features, fixes and design changes, as well as all-important security updates and performance refinements. During the subsequent extended support period, non-security updates stop. Instead, Microsoft focuses solely on bug fixes, security updates and other changes that maintain the security and reliability of its products.
October 10th, 2023, marks the end of this extended support period, signalling the end of security updates, bug fixes and technical support for Windows Server 2012 (and R2) customers.
Why Continuing to Use Windows Server 2012 is Not an Option
Perhaps this has left you thinking: will my server stop working on the 10th of October. The short answer is no, but continuing to use an unsupported server is extremely ill-advised. Here’s why:
You’re at greater Risk of Suffering a Damaging Cyber Attack
Cyber threat actors pay great attention to the end-of-life (EOL) dates for popular software programs and operating systems. When the EOL date for Windows 2012 server comes around, cybercriminals will begin looking for ways to exploit vulnerabilities for malicious gain. These vulnerabilities will only accumulate over time, so the risk to your business is only going to get greater the longer you use the unsupported server.
You May Fail to Satisfy Your Compliance Obligations
Data security regulations and standards, such as PCI DSS, HIPAA, GDPR and the CMMC, place great emphasis on maintaining secure, up-to-date systems in order to ensure data integrity and confidentiality. While often not an explicit requirement, regulators and standards bodies are likely to view the operation of unsupported software or systems as a reckless or negligent practice that constitutes non-compliance.
No-one to Call When Things Go Wrong
It’s not just security updates and fixes that end in October; technical support will also no longer be available. This means that in the event of a server outage or security incident, you could have to pay a substantial amount to a third party to restore the availability of your business-critical systems. This could have severe implications for your operational continuity, as it leaves the length of outages and the cost of reinstation shrouded in uncertainty.
Inhibited Growth and Revenue Loss
Running an unsupported server puts you at greater risk of an IT outage that affects your ability to serve your customers. Even if the loss of functionality is only partial and short-lived, your customers will notice, and it could harm their confidence in your business. Over time, that loss of confidence could translate to lost customers, stagnant growth and damage to the vital revenue streams your business depends on.
A Lacklustre End User Experience
Today’s employees expect reliable, high-performance technology that offers seamless integration across devices, applications, and services. The absence of ongoing support for your server will result in compatibility issues with newer systems and hardware, and frequent bugs and performance issues will hamper employee productivity. If your team are already tired of hearing ‘we have to reboot the server again,’ then it may be time to explore a replacement that helps them stay productive, efficient and motivated.
What Options Are Available to Me?
With the end-of-life deadline looming, businesses operating Windows 2012 Server need to take action now to avoid running unsupported IT infrastructure that puts their data and operational integrity at risk. If you’re in this position, here are three options you should consider going forward.
Purchase Extended Security Updates (ESU)
Some Windows Server customers have the option of purchasing extended security updates (ESUs). These include critical fixes and important security updates for a period of three years after the end of the Extended Support withdrawal date. In other words, these updates will cover your server until October 13th, 2026.
However, this option is only available to customers on Software Assurance subscriptions (or equivalent) and is recognized as being an expensive option that should at best be considered a stop-gap measure.
Upgrade to Windows Server 2019 or 2022
If you are required to operate an on-premises server setup, then upgrading to a newer version of Windows Server may be the best option for your business.
It’s worth noting however, that server upgrades can be fraught with challenges, particularly if current applications are incompatible with the newer system. You’ll also have to consider whether your existing server infrastructure meets the minimum hardware requirements of the new variant. This could necessitate a costly infrastructure upgrade, including network components (as required) in order to ensure compatibility.
Migrate to the Cloud
Cloud service providers like Microsoft Azure provide businesses with access to scalable, flexible, cost-efficient computing resources without the need to acquire and manage on-premises hardware. The cloud is growing fast and is likely to become the favoured hosting solution for SMBs in the near future. By migrating to the cloud, businesses free themselves from the constraints and limitations of fixed infrastructure, and embrace agile technology that can be adapted quickly and affordably in response to changing needs.
The pitfalls of running unsupported software are numerous. From security vulnerabilities that can precipitate harmful cyber-attacks to regular outages that decimate workplace productivity, unsupported systems can have detrimental implications for the growth and resilience of any business.
If your business is still running Windows Server 2012, then you’ll have to explore an alternative now. However, as we explore in our next article, doing so could be an opportunity to upgrade your digital infrastructure in a way that support the growth and future success of your organization.
Infinity Technologies, the best IT provider in Virginia
Ready to elevate your business in the vibrant landscape of Virginia, Fredericksburg and surrounding areas?
At Infinity Technologies, we’re committed to being your ultimate technology partner in the heart of Virginia, empowering your team, securing your data, and driving business growth with our proactive Managed IT Services. Since 1996, companies in Fredericksburg, Virginia, have relied on us for rapid, personal, and effective IT Support, Cyber Security, and compliance services.
If you’re looking to harness the power of technology to enhance your security, compliance, productivity, and innovation in Fredericksburg, reach out to Infinity Technologies today and explore the potential that technology holds for your organization. Contact us now f and let’s embark on a journey to limitless success.