Windows Server 2003 End of Life date to be “2015 cloud catalyst”
The July 2015 End of Life date for Windows Server 2003 will drive more people to the cloud next year.
That was one of the main discussion points at Dennis Business Media’s (a joint event for Cloud Pro, IT Pro and PC Pro) Cloud: Take Back Control roundtable breakfast briefing this week.
The end of support for Microsoft’s server operating system in July 2015 will act as a catalyst that sees people shift their IT infrastructure to the cloud, according to Cloud Industry Forum (CIF) CEO Alex Hilton.
The event also featured input from a host of expert speakers who examined the issues around adopting cloud technologies.
Hilton pointed to CIF’s own research this month that found 61 per cent of 250 end users still store data on Windows Server 2003-running machines.
And the CIF boss believes that most organisations will only move to the cloud when an opportunity arises to replace old infrastructure.
He said: “People say something’s creaking, something’s about to die, we need to make a move.
“One of the biggest examples of that coming up over the next six months or so is the end of support for Windows Server 2003.
“That is a dead product. That will mean there will be no patches, no updates, no changes, nothing.
“That will be an obvious candidate in terms of driving adoption to cloud,” he added.
While Microsoft is pushing its Windows Server 2008 and 2012 operating systems as possible replacements for the technology, Hilton predicted people will see expiration as a chance to take advantage of externally managed cloud infrastructures.
But while CIF predicts uptake will help push cloud adoption to 90 per cent of firms by the end of 2015, those who attended Cloud Pro’s event were full of questions around the risks and opportunities cloud presents.
When questioned on the security concerns around cloud adoption, both Hilton and fellow speaker Kevin Borley, chief advisor to the CIO at analyst house Bloor, said such fears were overblown.
Borley said: “Cloud providers cannot afford for security to be an issue for them, because it will kill them.
“A lot of the noise around security is in my view informed by vested interests who are rattling their cages because at the end of the day they are going to be the casualties.”
Hilton did not put it as strongly, but said that speaking to end users, very few had suffered a security breach.
“There is a degree of trepidation and concern out there. [But] the reality is not quite as severe as people’s perceived doubts,” he said, adding that smaller cloud companies outside of the public cloud behemoths like Facebook and Amazon get industry-approved certification to prove their quality.
“We have three pillars – transparency, capability, accountability,” he added. “We’re trying to enable resellers selling cloud services to say these pillars [are the] the foundation for our business, this is what we do, the structure and support we will offer to you as an end user.”
However, a larger threat to cloud adoption is whether you are tied down by legacy infrastructure, according to Borley.
“Do not put yourself in the position where you get people involved who have a legacy mindset,” he warned. “You cannot work with this stuff in the way that you need to if you’re constrained by history and old work practices.”
But when asked where legacy-heavy companies should start migrating, he said firms must decide where they want to focus on doing their own IT.
He echoed comments from HP’s EMEA chief technologist, David Chalmers, who told Cloud Pro last week that firms must identify what is not core to their business, and put that in the cloud.
“I start off by asking a company, what do you need to be good at?” Borley said. “So does that mean that you have to be good at managing a service contract and a supplier relationship or does that mean that you have to be the best Windows 2013 set of technologists, because you don’t trust the rest of the world?”
The third speaker, Marcelo Negro of Amacuro Systems, is in the middle of creating a cloud platform for Freesat, the free digital channel co-created by the BBC and ITV.
His advice for those considering cloud was not to rush, and to do some due diligence on prospective providers.
“You need to know that they’re not going to close in the middle of your transition,” he warned, adding that you are putting the health of your company in the hands of the provider.
“For better or for worse if you go with a third-party cloud provider you’re going to be betting the company. That’s the truth,” he said.
“While you cannot have a direct control over the technology, control the process at every stage. Don’t be afraid to take the decision to say ‘no, I’m not happy with this phase of deployment, we’re going to do it again and stop it until we get it right.”
Borley and Hilton both agreed that cloud migrations will result in more hybrid deployments, where some IT is in the cloud and some remains on-premise.
Hilton sees it as a destination for at least the short and middle-term as cloud technology develops.
He said: “The hybrid model is certainly somehting that’s been in the market now for the last year or so. I don’t think it’s ever going to go completely away.”
But Borley argued that it is merely a transition point, and European firms must strive to run completely in the cloud if they want to catch up to the cutting-edge technology seen in Silicon Valley.
“Europe is sleeping because of the poor economy and the momentum in the Valley has been just raging ahead,” he said.
“Hybrid is a very interesting issue for us. It’s an inevitable next step but I don’t see it as an end point.”
He warned those hoping to go all-in on cloud must ensure they work with providers who are already there.
He said: “To a degree you’re going to actually be completely constrained in your uptake of cloud depending on your suppliers and how fast they move.
“You won’t be able to make the full move to cloud unless your suppliers are already there, otherwise you’re forced to stay hybrid.”
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This story was first published on Cloud Pro.