Attention All Windows Server 2012 Users

Dustin-Lee Duxbury

You may already know that Microsoft Windows Server 2012 will reach the end of its support cycle in October.

Concerned-looking middle-aged professional leaning on railing in manufacturing plant

In addition, Microsoft SQL Server 2012 reaches the end of its support cycle this month. The products are more than a decade old and while they have been great and reliable friends to many it’s time to bid them farewell.

Microsoft ceasing support to these devices will be problematic for businesses which have not planned to upgrade. The most pressing concern is that Microsoft will no longer release security updates, leaving your business vulnerable to cyber threat and potentially non-compliant. Non-compliance can cause a variety of problems for a business even if its vulnerabilities are not tested, which sadly, given the threat landscape they are likely to be. In addition, as time goes on, software and hardware will be developed that will not be compatible, limiting your ability to use new technologies or to integrate with other systems.

Whilst version 2012 will not simply stop working this month we urge you to upgrade to remain protected. The good news is that the migration won’t just involve more expense for a like-for-like swap and the upgrade will deliver a host of benefits. We list them in brief here:

  • Improved and continued security: An upgrade will mean that Microsoft is still releasing the latest security updates to protect your database and business.
  • Enhanced performance: Ten years is a long time, and each new server has been better and faster than the last, boosting productivity and making operations easier.
  • Better integration: Upgrading can make it easier to integrate with other systems and technologies such as cloud.
  • New features and functionality: Upgrading to a newer version will greatly enhance the solution’s value. Most of these new features have been honed and improved since their first arrival in 2016.
  • Cost savings: Upgrading to a newer version can mean less resource is required for the same tasks and business continuity is protected. There is a cost to the initial migration but saving your business from the fate of downtime is always a commercially sensible decision.

You can check if your applications are compatible with newer versions of Windows Servers with a few simple actions:

  • Check the application vendors website: see if they list Windows Server 2016/2022 as a supported version.
  • Test the application in a UAT environment: try setting an environment, install the application and test it with the required stockholders. The tests will need to run for a couple of weeks or months and all parts of the application should be tested to ensure the application runs as expected before committing to the upgrade.
  • Contact the application vendor: the vendor should be able to provide you with guidance on how to make the application work on new operating systems or discuss a plan to migrate / transition to a newer version of the product, which could be cloud based.

There are a few options if you are ready to migrate or transition:

  • In-place upgrade: This means installing the new operating system over the old one and is relatively convenient but has a risk of data loss for which recovery time needs to be factored in.
  • Migrate to new hardware: This means migrating to a newer Windows server and is a good option if you want to keep your servers on-prem.
  • Migrating the workload to Microsoft Azure: this means migrating everything over as-is and receiving free extended security updates until 2023.
  • Transition or migrate to a new product or solution: migrate to a different new solution which may be a cloud or serverless solution. This is worth investigating in case it’s a cheaper option.
  • Purchase extended security updates: you can purchase an extended security update subscription for your servers and remain protected until you are ready for a newer version.

Your options for migration if you are still using the SQL 2012:

  • Upgrade to SQL Server 2019: Plan and migrate your SQL workloads to a new server running. This requires preparation and planning so this project should not be delayed.
  • Purchase extended security updates: These will run for another 3 years from the 12 July 2022. Following this there will be no further support. This is a quick fix. It doesn’t offer any new features or functionality, but it does keep you secure.
  • Move your SQL Server 2012 workloads into Microsoft Azure: Migrating to Microsoft Azure IaaS, allows you to automatically use the extended security updates for free, which allows for another three years of security updates from the 12 July 2022. This is the trend and what many businesses are choosing to do given the wealth of benefits to moving to the cloud.
  • Migrate the SQL workload to Azure Managed Instance: Migrating to Microsoft’s PaaS solution which offers high levels of compatibility with older versions of SQL ensures your workload continues to work as expected and you never have to patch or upgrade again.

A good technology partner will be able to talk you through each business case, offering the benefits and negatives of each option both short and long-term.

What you should expect from providers:

  • The correct migration to suit your budget, requirements, and to future proof your business
  • Full communication on how the project will run and the exact costs
  • Engineers on-hand to answer questions
  • Limited downtime and disruption
  • A deep dive into the new functions and features and how you can use them
  • Post-migration support

Wanstor’s engineers are highly skilled and experienced in server migration, so if you have any queries we are happy to give you the advice and help you need. Get in touch to find out how we can help.