Ravi Pendekanti is Vice President of Server Solutions Marketing at Dell, Inc. His organization is responsible for developing and bringing Dell’s flagship line of PowerEdge Servers and Converged Infrastructure systems to market.
In 2003—the same year a Harvard undergrad named Mark Zuckerberg began development on Facebook and the first convergent Blackberry smartphone was introduced—the rise of cloud computing was still years away. It would be even longer before the terms “big data” and “BYOD” reached the common parlance.
It was during that simpler time that Microsoft released the Windows Server 2003 OS, on a CD, for Intel Xeon and Itanium 2 processors. At the time a somewhat “beefy” hardware configuration for a server running the OS was a processor in excess of 900MHz, with 512MB of RAM and a SCSI drive array with at least three 20GB drives.
Needless to say, the IT landscape has changed drastically since then. Explosive data growth, increased mobility, globalization, virtualization and regulatory demands are forcing IT to rethink how they address challenges within their organizations. And with extended support for Windows Server 2003 ending on July 14, 2015, there is no better time than now to build a new, more flexible environment with Windows Server 2012 R2 and modern server infrastructure.
More Powerful Software and Hardware
While migrating to Windows Server 2012 R2 may be inevitable, it’s also a good move – and not just because of the potentially costly regulatory and compliance issues and heightened security threats from remaining on an unsupported OS. It’s a good opportunity to benefit from advances in new technologies.
Some of the new features added in Windows Server 2012 R2 – that were not available in Windows Server 2003 – include scalable, feature-rich virtualization via Hyper-V, the addition of network virtualization to isolate network traffic from different business units or customers on a shared infrastructure, high-availability, affordable storage, improved management, dynamic access control and support for hybrid applications.
To get the most out of this software investment, customers should look to pair it with the best of breed hardware. Windows Server 2012 R2 is optimized for some of the hardware features in the latest Intel Xeon processor platforms such as increased density, greater memory capacity, I/O optimization, enhanced reliability and security, and energy efficiency. As a result, today’s servers can speed application performance, empower workloads for any scale and simplify systems management.
Where to Begin
Even with Windows Server 2003 end of extended support rapidly approaching, many data centers have yet to upgrade their operating environment. Migration can appear to be a daunting process but once organizations decide to refresh their server infrastructure and migrate to Windows Server 2012 R2, there is a general three-step process to follow: Assess, Integrate and Migrate (AIM).
- The Assessment stage is used to better understand the existing server environment and to identify and catalog all the software and workloads that are running on earlier versions of Windows Server. To get started, organizations can leverage complimentary tools such as the Microsoft Assessment and Planning (MAP) Toolkit that provides an agentless and network-wide inventory. The inventory will provide a view of all the applications running on earlier Windows Server environments in several ways – by type, by criticality, by complexity and by risk. For many organizations, this phase presents an opportunity to retire under-utilized or redundant applications, consolidate licenses across the organization, and update older applications to reap the benefits in more current versions. After the assessment organizations can prioritize the applications and workloads for migration to help determine the sequence of updates that need to be performed.
- Next, consider the integration options for each workload. Some applications may be best suited to move to new hardware running Windows Server 2012 R2, others may be deployed and managed within a hybrid cloud environment, while others may be suitable for the public cloud. When it comes to new hardware, organizations that replace aging infrastructure with future-ready servers with the latest Intel Xeon processors can increase performance by up to 585 percent, decrease idle power consumption by up to 66 percent and reduce latency by up to 30 percent. Choosing servers that also integrate systems management capabilities with Microsoft Systems Center can also provide enhanced automation and data center efficiencies.
- The final step is to conduct the actual migration. Data center migrations can be a complex and time consuming activity that must be executed without affecting business operations. Part of this process includes migrating foundation services such as Active Directory, DNS, etc. to Windows Server 2012 R2. As anyone who has been involved in previous migration efforts knows, moving services like Active Directory can bring its own challenges, so organizations should look for automated software that will ensure users have the same access to resources after the migration and promote security and compliance in the new Windows Server environment.
Modern Technology Will Protect and Maximize Your Investments
Although some organizations might approach migration with the sense that their hand has been forced, it’s undeniably an advantageous move. The data center of today is highly flexible, with efficient and reliable systems perfectly geared toward making life easier for administrators, employees and customers. It not only enables cost savings, but is optimized for growing into the future and creating new business opportunities.
The time to invest in modern infrastructure is now. Even if migration isn’t exactly your choice this year, it’s a move you definitely won’t regret.
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