After almost a decade of ongoing service, updates, and support, Microsoft is about to close a chapter on two of its most popular legacy products: Windows Server 2008 and SQL Server 2008.

Announced through a press release back in July, this change will allow Microsoft to devote more resources to supporting other products. But it also means businesses that relied on these two platforms will now no longer receive security updates and patches for it, and their systems will be incompatible with future technology. This poses a significant security threat that managers need to be aware of as they prepare for the changeover.

Want to know how to make the most of the EOS opportunity with your customers? Book a demo with our Azure specialists to learn more.

Some business managers might be asking Microsoft: Why break something that isn’t broken? While the technology was certainly revolutionary at the time (2008 saw Microsoft Server upgrade from 32-bit to 64-bit, for example), there are more innovative solutions today that simply can’t be ignored. New technologies like cloud computing and artificial intelligence give businesses greater flexibility and competitiveness, so it makes sense that Microsoft wants to focus more on supporting those other offerings.

If you’re a business that currently uses these platforms, what do you need to know about their end-of-service (EOS) deadlines? And what other options are there?

What Are the EOS Deadlines?

Here’s an overview of the EOS deadlines for these two legacy platforms:

• Extended Support for SQL Server 2008 and 2008 R2 will end on July 9, 2019.
• Extended Support for Windows Server 2008 and 2008 R2 will end on January 14, 2020.

These dates might seem far off, but with only eight months until SQL Server 2008 and 2008 R2 are no longer supported, it’s important that IT managers and business owners start the migration now. You need to give enough time to run both systems concurrently, train staff to use the new system, and allow time for any bugs to be ironed out.

As mentioned earlier, these systems will no longer receive any support from Microsoft, even though they’ll still be active. Additionally, community hotfix patches might be released, but there is no guarantee.

If you want to upgrade, you have two main options.

EOS Deadlines Solution: Upgrade to Azure

This EOS deadline is a fantastic opportunity for businesses to upgrade to the latest offering from Microsoft: Azure, an enterprise-grade cloud computing platform that allows you to quickly build, test, and deploy applications and services.

There are two ways to upgrade to Azure. The first involves re-hosting Server 2008 within the Azure architecture, known as IaaS. Essentially, you’d migrate your 2008 server into the cloud, but onto a code base that supports the original code without any changes. You’d have all the power that Azure provides, without the complicated new code base. This gives you enough time to upgrade your systems, remain secure, and ensure that you’re ready for the future.

In addition to the ease of transfer, Microsoft is also offering three years of extended security updates for Azure for 2008 and 2008 R2 versions of SQL Server and Windows Server. This gives business plenty of time to slowly upgrade to Azure SQL Server 2017 or Azure Windows Server 2016.

The second way to update to Azure is to move your SQL Server 2008 and 2008 R2 platforms into an Azure SQL Database Managed Instance, known as PaaS. This Azure instance is fully supported by Microsoft and does not require any future updates. It will be available at the end of 2018. This solution requires very little downtime and no application code change (there might be some other code changes, however).

EOS Deadlines Solution: Upgrade Your On-Premises Server Platform

For those businesses that have a server located on premises and who don’t yet feel comfortable with moving their (or their clients’) data to the cloud, you do have the option of upgrading your current on-premises server environment and staying protected.

Just like you would upgrade unprompted, there is the option to upgrade your Windows Server 2008 to Windows Server 2016.

The latest server technology from Microsoft incorporates cloud functionality and provides increased efficiency for businesses. Additionally, this upgrade will provide you with greater up-to-date security and container support. However, this does not include the three years of security updates provided by the first option discussed above.

If your business needs more time to upgrade its on-premises servers to the 2016 edition, you can purchase the three-year extended security updates.

How to Plan for the EOS Deadlines – A Transition Period

Here are our recommendations and advice for managers who understand that they need to plan their next steps for the EOS transition.

First, start identifying applications and programs that use the 2008 server infrastructure and that will require ongoing support. Then, plan out how each application will be transitioned leading up to the EOS.

Second, ensure that you have enough time to finesse your system on the new platform. Organize a time to train stakeholders on the new tools and technologies, as well as address any bugs that may arise.

Managers should also understand how critical these programs are to their businesses and whether some are more important than others.

One resource for those looking to upgrade can be found on the Microsoft Windows Server 2008 page; they’ve put together a great tool for the migration and have outlined everything discussed in this article in greater detail.

This end of service is a big opportunity for businesses to move their customers to the cloud with Microsoft Azure. Now is the time to modernize and prepare your business for future growth.

Book a demo with our Azure specialists to find out how we can help you take advantage of this opportunity.

Written by Sophie Furnival Content Specialist @ SherWeb

Sophie is SherWeb's Marketing Communications Strategist.