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.