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How end of support for Windows and SQL servers can jump-start cloud migration and modernization

Deloitte on Cloud Blog

Can end-of-life support translate into new beginnings for your core infrastructure?

July 11, 2019

A blog post by Scott Rodgers, Master Solutions Architect at Deloitte

It’s either an aggravating predicament or a prospect for future growth, depending on your outlook. Either way, if your organization uses Windows Server 2008 or SQL Server 2008, you need to make some decisions fast.

That’s because Microsoft will soon end official support for both technologies, starting with termination of SQL Server 2008 on July 9, 2019, followed by Windows Server 2008 on January 14, 2020. Addressing end of support will likely create burdensome IT projects for organizations around the world, given that more than 37,000 global companies still rely on Windows Server 2008, according to iDatalabs.

Use of unsupported software can introduce significant risks. We’ve seen that security incidents can skyrocket by as much as 300 percent because vendors no longer push out security updates—an open invitation to hackers. These incidents are largely preventable, however, with 57 percent of cyberattack victims reporting that a patch update could have deflected attacks, according to a study by ServiceNow. Timely patching would have also helped organizations avoid the escalating financial impact of cybercrime.

As an executive of an organization that still uses either server solution, you have several options to consider—and a dwindling amount of time to act.

  • Lift and shift to public cloud: Migrate your Windows and SQL servers to Microsoft Azure Public Cloud, with three years extended support from Microsoft.
  • Lift and shift to Hybrid cloud: Migrate your Windows and SQL servers to Microsoft Azure Stack, with three years extended support from Microsoft. For Organizations that have data sovereignty or other requirements to keep on premise, solutions such as HPE ProLiant for Microsoft Azure Stack can support this and will also provide three years of extended support.
  • Upgrade On Premise Windows Servers & SQL Servers: Upgrade your servers’ operating systems and/or SQL systems on premise and choose if on prem, hybrid, or public cloud is the right option for you.
  • SQL PaaS database migration: Upgrade and migrate your Microsoft SQL Server environment to Azure as either hosted infrastructure (IaaS) or running as a hosted service (PaaS). For those servers you cannot do one of the above prior to the deadline you would need to Purchase Extended Security Updates from Microsoft to keep those server and database workloads protected for up to three additional years.

Despite the hassle, end-of-life support can ultimately translate into new beginnings for your core infrastructure. Updating server software can help strengthen your security posture as well as allow you to implement new technologies, boost operational efficiencies, and derive more value from your data. So, while software updates are critical for cybersecurity and compliance, they also can help you stay competitive while mitigating risk and migrating applications and workloads to the cloud. Beyond that, server and database migration can enable you to generate more value from your legacy data. Database migration to a SQL PaaS instance public or hybrid, for instance, allows you to adopt artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to immediately gain business insights from legacy data.

To prepare, you’ll need to scour your application landscape to understand your Windows Server and SQL Server implementations, as well as carefully assess your IT infrastructure, applications, and overall cloud readiness. Your goal is to quickly gain a realistic understanding of your current-state technology and chart an individual path toward a digitally transformed future state.

Taking the first steps, slowly

While it is important to move to address this issue, it is also critical to take a step back and carefully chart a strategic path. You’ll want to focus on delivering optimal value and solving individual business needs, whether you opt to lift and shift software to Azure, adopt a Hybrid cloud solution such as HPE ProLiant for Microsoft Azure Stack, migrate the databases, modernize legacy applications and move them to the cloud, or purchase extended security updates for those you can’t address prior to the deadline.

Doing so will demand a deep understanding of the architecture, interdependencies, and technical structure of your IT ecosystem. That will be a tall order for many organizations. Most are too overloaded with basic system support and application maintenance to effectively address end-of-life software and cloud migration. Many also struggle to justify spending for unplanned IT upgrade projects, and even more lack the staff expertise and resources to go it alone. One way to circumvent these obstacles is adoption of new cloud technologies that leverage PaaS, Hybrid, machine learning and AI, and other services.

To get started, you’ll need a migration strategy backed by proven methodologies that quickly provide an understanding of your Windows Server and SQL Server environment, infrastructure, applications, and overall cloud readiness. You’ll also need to rapidly determine dependencies, security risks, and opportunities, as well as identify ways to enhance business performance.

Learn how Deloitte can help you find and follow the best path for updating your Windows Server and SQL Server software.


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