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Following on from our article in May about end of life for various Microsoft products, which focused on Exchange 2010, we’re now looking at the implications of the withdrawal of extended support for Windows Server 2008. This will take place on 14 January 2020 – but if you’re still using this product or any of the others that are affected, we recommend you start preparing now.

End of life explained

As we noted in our last article, end of life means that Microsoft will no longer support Windows Server 2008 after the above date. There’ll be no more bug fixes or security updates, leaving your systems exposed as vulnerabilities and loopholes won’t be remedied. Your business will be at risk of attack from viruses and other threats such as ransomware.

Additional issues associated with end of life include a potential lack of compliance with the new data protection regulation, GDPR, and the withdrawal of product support by software and antivirus providers. If you keep using Windows Server 2008 after the cut-off date, you’ll also be missing out on the benefits of newer products with more sophisticated features, which could boost your productivity and efficiency.

Windows Server 2008 and SBS

Microsoft released 16 versions of Windows Server 2008 in total, with R2 being the most popular. Many businesses use it as part of a Windows Small Business Server (SBS), which combines Windows Server 2008 with other products such as Exchange, SQL Server and SharePoint services.

If you have this set-up at your business, some of the components within your SBS may have already reached end of life, in which case you need to upgrade as a matter of urgency. Support for the others will be withdrawn by 14 January 2020. Upgrading your IT infrastructure is no small task, so the sooner your start planning, the better.

Upgrade options

There are a couple of alternatives to consider when upgrading from Windows Server 2008 or SBS 2008. One of these is Windows Server 2016, which offers many more features and security benefits than Windows Server 2008. There are two versions: Standard for smaller businesses and Datacenter for large organisations. Of course, if you have an SBS, you’ll also need to replace the other elements that are coming to end of life, such as Exchange and SQL.

Since the launch of Windows Server 2016, Microsoft have released two updates: Windows Server version 1709 and Windows Server 1803. These are part of a new programme called the Semi-Annual Channel which releases updated software more often (every six months instead of every two to three years). 1709 and 1803 aren’t service packs for Windows Server 2016 but products in their own right.

They’re designed for businesses undergoing rapid growth who want access to new technology as soon as it becomes available – which is why each product is only supported for 18 months. You might want to join the Semi-Annual Channel programme if your company is developing quickly or is likely to start doing so soon.

Another option is to wait for Windows Server 2019 to be released towards the end of 2018. This will offer even more advanced technology than Windows Server 2016 and you’ll also have more time until the product reaches end of life. Versions 1709 and 1803 and Server 2016 can all be combined with Azure in the same way as Windows Server 2016.

Or, if your business doesn’t have complex IT requirements, you could simply move your data storage and email management to Microsoft Office 365. You can read about the benefits of this and the process involved in our May article.

Not sure which option to choose? Let Jalapeno help!

Investing in a new IT infrastructure is a big decision and we’re keen to help you make the right choices. Our expert engineers can assess your current set-up alongside your existing and future IT requirements and recommend the best way forward. Our initial audit is FREE and there’s no obligation to proceed, so why not get in touch and book a site visit today?

You can contact us on 01636 681 110, email enquiries@jalapeno.is or book your free systems audit online at our website.