As part of an effort to motivate solution providers to identify opportunities to upgrade instances of Windows Server 2003 that are scheduled for end-of-life support on July 14, Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) has kicked of Operation Crescendo.

Vance Baran, director of HP Servers Strategic Growth Initiatives, said HP, in cooperation with Microsoft and its distribution partners, is making a coordinated push to create sales leads by identifying customers that are looking for help migrating from Windows Server 2003 to either Windows Server 2008 or Windows Server 2012.

The primary issue IT organizations that don't migrate will face is security: Microsoft no longer will patch Windows Server 2003 after July 14. Every new patch issued for Windows Server 2008 and Windows Server 2012 essentially could serve as a blueprint for ways to exploit and unpatched instances of Windows Server 2003.

To make matters even more interesting, Microsoft also plans to sunset Microsoft SQL Server 2005, the database that is most commonly deployed on Windows Server 2003.

The challenge from a solution provider’s prospective, of course, is threefold:

  • Windows Server migration expertise is in short supply;
  • The amount of time required to migrate all the instances of Windows Server 2003 could go well beyond the July 14 deadline; and
  • Organizations running Windows Server 2003 are technological laggards, which by definition doesn't make them the most attractive customers to have from a profitability perspective.

In addition, many of those same customers have taken it into their heads that they can just move their instances of Windows Server 2003 on to a virtual machine to isolate it from security threats. That may work for a while, but Baran noted it’s going to be more cost-effective and secure to move that application to a the latest instance of Windows Server.

Naturally, there will also be some debate over where to put that instance of Windows Server. But given how few days there are between now and July 14, Baran said most organization will find it easier to replace a local server than it is to move that application environment to the cloud.

Whatever the approach, the one thing that Microsoft has made clear this that any support for Windows Server 2003 provided after July 14 is going to be a very expensive proposition no matter what.