With not much time left before free support for Microsoft Windows Server 2003 expires on July 14, a preview of new survey of 200 IT professionals conducted by Spiceworks finds that a lack of time, budget constraints and applications compatibility issues are the top three reasons that many IT organizations won’t make the deadline.

With some 20 million-plus instance of Windows Server 2003 still running, IT organizations are definitely pressed for time. Despite the impending deadline, the Spiceworks results indicate that most internal IT organizations are still determined to make the migration themselves.

Given the lack of time, the path of least resistance for many of those organizations will be to replace Microsoft Exchange with Microsoft Office 365 running in the cloud. Any other applications running on Windows Server 2003 that can’t be easily migrated most likely will be isolated on a virtual machine running on top of Windows Server 2008 or 2012.

Although Spiceworks, Microsoft and host of server vendors do not recommend moving Windows Server 2003 on to a virtual machine because of potential security issues, faced with no alternative many IT organizations will try to buy migration time by doing exactly that. Once the application running on top of Windows 2003 is officially retired, the IT organization will then opt to de-provision the virtual machine that Windows Server 2003 was running on.

Obviously, Windows Server 2003 migrations represent a significant opportunity for the channel. But it can take weeks—sometimes even months—to make that migration. More challenging still, the number of IT people with the skills required to make such migrations are in short supply. Add in a little stubbornness being driven by a desire by IT admins to not have to admit to their bosses they need help making a Windows Server 2003 migration, and it becomes clear solution providers may have to find a way to end-run the internal IT organization to alert the rest of the business to the potential seriousness of the issue.

Naturally, that requires a delicate balance. Organizations that are still running Windows Server 2003 are generally laggards when it comes to IT. As such, they are not usually willing to commit a massive amount of money to replace or upgrade existing applications. In fact, there may be an internal IT team that has already made that very same pitch, only to be rebuffed by senior executives that have other priorities. So no matter how you look at it, Windows Server 2003 upgrades may not be an easy sell.

Of course, we’ll know more about that once Spiceworks publishes the full results of its survey next month. In the meantime, you might want to sign up to attend this virtual trade show happening online next month to brush up on your Windows Server 2003 migration skills.