Data Centers

Do modern operating systems conflict with enterprise applications?

There is no shortage of moving targets in the data center. IT pro Rick Vanover shares opinions related to enterprise applications and the role of the operating system today.

I spend most of my professional time focused on ensuring data center technologies deliver a modern architecture, specifically around servers, storage and virtualization technologies. I sometimes take too much for granted in that process when it comes to what is going on above the infrastructure -- enterprise applications and operating systems. One area where I see a mixed set of results is Windows Server 2012 adoption.

While some organizations have delivered amazing infrastructure from a hardware, storage, and virtualized infrastructure perspective, I’m surprised how much still runs on Windows Server 2003. There is more that runs on Windows Server 2008 R2, but that’s palatable given that many systems have been implemented before Windows Server 2012 became generally available (September 2012).

I get stuck in a philosophical dilemma with the older operating systems, such as Windows Server 2003. The fact that today we can run that workload as a virtual machine gives us a lot of options, effectively being able to create an operating system mausoleum if we’d prefer. But, is that the right decision today for a production workload?

Extended support for Windows Server 2003 goes through 14-July 2015; so we have some time. But, the real sticking point isn’t the operating system -- it’s the applications running there. Most IT organizations can absorb Windows Server technologies fine as new ones are released, but the applications are the more complicated discussion. There are supportability (with the new OS) considerations that generally get resolved in a few months after release.

I’ve been using Windows Server 2012 in production capacities since late last year and have been quite fine with it, and enjoying many of the new features (like volume deduplication). But, again, the enterprise application migration consideration is the hard part.

What does an infrastructure team do in this situation? Well, given that extended support ends in 2015, now is the time to set forth a plan to migrate enterprise applications to Windows Server 2012. Microsoft makes it easy to demo Windows Server 2012; you can even download a fully functional .ISO of the operating system installation from TechNet.

By taking the time now to get familiar with Windows Server 2012, you can perform some sample application migration scenarios and request any budget funds for the next year (if necessary). Don't find yourself in an awkwardly unsupported situation in mid-2015.

Have you done much with Windows Server 2012 in regards to enterprise application migrations? What has been a struggle and a success story for you? Share your comments below.


Rick Vanover is a software strategy specialist for Veeam Software, based in Columbus, Ohio. Rick has years of IT experience and focuses on virtualization, Windows-based server administration, and system hardware.


As an infrastructure guy myself, I sometimes forget that. If the app doesn't work, the rest doesn't (and shouldn't) matter. What Microsoft (and other OS makers) provide is a framework to run apps. Whatever they can do to make apps less portable and obsolete is in their best interest, not their customers. So many of the cool technologies we love shouldn't be basic OS features.


I might ask the question: Is not Server 2012 tied so closely to allow the full functionality with Windows 8? If so, then why upgrade? Windows 8 has shown that it is not what users want to fool with in the corporate environment. Many users don't want change.... Also, with the economic conditions so many corporations are in, they just don't want to spend the $$$ to make the change(s). IT can see the needs to improve but the mighty dollar rules and we are not like our government...spend what you don't have. Thought #2: In only an internal site, no external IIS: With the ability to virtualize so much, cannot segmentation (VLANs) work and with policies, restrict the access to tightly that not even Window updates are necessary?


As a new graduate in Computer Information Technology, all our server classes where on/ about server 2008 even as the Microsoft websites that some of our class labs came from where listing server 2012 information. Some of our teachers where part timers that taught a single class and worked in the real world most of the time, and they still where in transition from server 2003 to server 2008 or server 2008R at their places of work.


Server 2012 has made things like Active Directory migration very simple. We are in the process of migrating all 2003 servers and the rest of our XP machines right now. The fully functional version of 2012 for testing our environment has been a great help. We virtualized images of our current servers and brought them up in a virtual lab environment in a 2012 and tested the migration. We found a bunch of issues but worked through or around all of them. We created a master To-Do list and whitepaper for our situation and the migration has been going better than expected. We plan to decommission all 2003 servers and the rest of our XP machines by years end.

Apparently the problem you mention is not that modern operating systems conflict with enterprise apps, it's rather than Microsoft's altogether policy on weird or non-backward compatibility (be it at the OS level, at the library level or at the development tools level) conflicts with enterprise (and most everybody else's) applications.

Regarding your though #2, you should take into account that currently, internal attacks can not be ruled out so keeping your system not accessible from the outside when an internal employee might be stealing information (s)he should not have access to is a possible risk.

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