There have been four upgrades since Windows Server 2003, so higher ed institutions must determine the version that’s right for them before July 14, 2015, when Microsoft is slated to end extended support for the 2003 product.
After that date, Microsoft will no longer release patches or security updates, leaving servers running the outdated OS vulnerable to threats.
The Windows Server 2008 and 2012 versions offer the option to virtualize guest images. An organization that wishes to consolidate existing Windows instances on the Windows hypervisor will find they can buy one server and host multiple operating system instances, potentially reducing costs, says Al Gillen, program vice president for servers and system software at IDC.
If IT teams still experience compatibility issues with Windows Server 2012 and critical applications, they may need to go with Windows Server 2008 or Windows Server 2008 R2; however, most applications are fine on all of the platforms, Gillen says. Barring compatibility issues, institutions would do just as well to upgrade to the newest version — Windows Server 2012 R2.
IT staff at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University chose Windows Server 2008 because, when they first looked into upgrading in 2012, the Windows Server 2012 product was still new, says Ronald E. Henry II, director of enterprise IT services and telecommunications. If he set out on the project again today, he says, he would move to the 2012 R2 version.
“In the next five to 10 years, ’08 is going to be phasing out, so it just kind of makes sense,” Henry says. “You save an upgrade, and you save money.”