Microsoft’s Small Business Server 2003 (SBS 2003) has been the industry standard for the majority of small and medium sized businesses within the UK for the last decade. But as the saying goes, all good things must come to an end, and SBS 2003 is not exempt from that. By now you should be aware that this business solution is reaching the end of its life cycle, and it will cease to be supported by Microsoft in April this year.
This is not to say that SBS will stop working overnight, Microsoft isn’t flicking the switch on this system, but they are no longer supporting some parts the software, mainly the part which runs your email. This means that there will be no further security updates or patches and they will not be directly supporting this part of the server. This is not to suggest that any service level agreement you have with an indirect Microsoft partner is now null and void, but it means should any serious issue arise you may face lengthier down times or limited usability.
Microsoft’s support life cycle for the products they issue is on a ten year lease, and for SBS 2003 and Windows XP have surpassed that limit and are facing the chop. Although current issues of the software should theoretically continue to function, the primary concern for business users should be that of security, primarily data protection. Once Microsoft stop releasing security updates and patches, SBS 2003 will essentially turn into a ticking time bomb and if a vulnerability is exploited, all businesses could be exposed to attack. No, Skynet will not become self-aware and the machines will not rise against us, but for your business, it could be almost as bad!
In addition to this Microsoft will also stop business critical support for the expired products on SBS 2003. Business critical support is an insurance policy for you that if you’re Microsoft Partner can’t fix the issue they can call on Microsoft to help. This is only available to highly certified partners but allows businesses to know that they are not reliant on just one company.
If your business is running SBS 2003, you should have by now considered replacing it for an upgrade. If you haven’t you really need to. Unfortunately, there is no clear cut answer as to what solution will best fit your business as the circumstances of any given company must be taken into consideration. For those with outdated hardware and high operational costs, the retirement of SBS 2003 may be the ideal time to seriously consider shifting infrastructure to the cloud, sidestepping the issue altogether. Whether you choose to replace your current platform with another on premise solution or migrate to the cloud, one thing is for certain; complacency is not an option and for businesses which value the security of data, the upgrade is an essential one.
If you are currently running SBS 2003 the time to act is now. If you do not put a plan into action before the end of support, you may find yourself caught short. Even with third party support, the fact that there will be no security updates or critical support from Microsoft means that, at some stage, SBS 2003 will fail, it’s just a matter of time. Whether you choose to replace existing infrastructure or begin shifting services to the cloud, it is of vital importance that you take measures to safeguard your business. If you believe that you may be effected and are concerned and want more information we can help, just get in touch.