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Windows Server 2003 Isn't Broke

So Why Fix It?

Twelve million. That’s the number of physical servers around the world still running Windows Server 2003, according to Microsoft’s count. But July will see extended support for the beloved 11-year-old workhorse operating system come to an end.

It’s never easy to change, but since when has IT been immune to change? You deal with change every day. IT teams today serve less as technicians and more as service providers to the business, thanks to highly virtualized environments and cloud computing in its various flavors. To keep pace with business demands in these contexts—better yet, to stay one step ahead of the game—IT needs to make the leap to a next-generation server operating system.

Windows Server 2003 did a great job for IT teams once consumed by administrative tasks like setting up specific physical server roles. Now, Windows Server 2012 is geared toward IT leaders now focused on speed-to-market, enterprise scalability and adaptability. Newsflash: virtualization and the cloud have changed the picture in so many ways—no longer is IT buying servers based on specific needs but rather to be part of a common pool of private or hybrid cloud infrastructure that provides flexibility for a range of services.

Windows Server 2012 sets IT up to act as a service provider. That includes increased virtual machine density, improved virtual machine performance, an architecture designed with multi-tenancy and continuous availability in mind, and, with System Center 2012, the ability to manage systems and resources across on-premise, service provider, and Microsoft Azure cloud environments.

It also brings with it a new take on licensing, tailored for virtualization in the changed world of IT. The only question that IT leaders now need to ask is—how virtualized are they planning to be. The answer will help them figure out which version of Windows Server 2012 is right: Standard or Datacenter edition. Each offers the same Windows Server and cloud-optimized functionality, from Windows Server Failover Clustering to Active Directory Federated Services, and has a metric of two processors per license. The Standard edition is better for low density or non-virtualized environments, as it includes support for two virtual instances per host, while the Datacenter edition is optimal for highly virtualized private and cloud environments with unlimited virtual instances per host.

Given the direction IT is headed these days, it’s likely most IT leaders will look to the Datacenter edition—and the economies of scale it offers—for all but the most limited requirements. With the Datacenter version, it doesn’t matter how many virtual machines are installed in a cluster—have as many as you like, and it won’t cost a dime extra. In fact, the more you grow your virtual machines, the lower your virtual instance price will be.

Change is in the air—but as you see, that can be a good thing. By all means, send Windows Server 2003 off with all the honors it deserves for a decade-plus of solid performance. Then say hello to a new best friend in Windows Server 2012.

With the end of support date for Windows Server 2003 fast approaching, there's never been a better time to plan your data center transformation. Our experts have designed this helpful tool to get you started on the right upgrade path for your unique environment, applications, and workloads.

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