With fewer than 70 days to go before the deadline for Windows Server 2003 End of Service arrives, it’s starting to look like large number of organizations will still be running the venerable operating system after July 14.

A survey of 200 IT professionals in North America conducted by Avanade, an IT services provider and joint venture between Microsoft and Accenture, shows that more than half (57 percent) are still running Windows Server 2003. According to the survey, on average only 40 percent of their Windows Server 2003 applications have been migrated and half (51 percent) say they plan to complete their migration before the July deadline.

Reasons for not making the deadline are myriad, from concerns about disrupting the business to other IT projects taking higher priority. Whatever the reason, at this point many of these organizations have resigned themselves to missing the deadline.

From a solution provider perspective, that may not necessarily be a bad thing. A previous survey of IT professionals conducted by Spiceworks, a provider of IT management tools, found that the vast majority of IT organizations intended to manage the migration process themselves. Based on the results of the Avanade survey, those migration strategies appear to be seriously flawed.

At some point after July 14, the pressure to migrate those servers is going to spike. There already have been incidents where unpatched Windows Server 2003 servers have been compromised to steal data. Once Microsoft stops delivering patches and security updates for Windows Server 2003, it’s only a matter of time before the number of Windows Server 2003 security incidents spikes. As those breaches continue to occur, the number of phone calls looking for external Windows Server migration expertise should increase dramatically. In fact, the Avanade survey found the top concern associated with continuing to run Windows Server 2003 after that deadline is security.

Tom Blankenhorn, senior director of sales and vendor management at Ingram Micro (IM), said the full-court press to reward solution providers for getting customers to migrate from Windows Server 2003 before the deadline will continue. But given the fact that on average it takes more than 100 days to make that migration, the game is all but over. Now the focus needs to shift toward what to do with all those customers that, at this point, clearly are not going to make the deadline.