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The Lingering Impact of the 2008 Recession on Tech Modernization – a Way Forward

For the last several months, I’ve been trying to understand why so many large organizations continue to run on technology stacks that are more than a decade old. Everyone will know by now that Extended Support for WS2008 will come to an end on Jan. 14, 2020. Common sense would make you think that End of Support would be a non-issue, because most companies should sensibly have retired WS2008 years ago. However, more than 60 million WS2008 servers and more than 5 million WS2003 servers are still in production today. Why is that? This startling fact begs a couple of questions:

  • Why are so many older servers still used in production?
  • What should your organization be doing about WS2008 now?

Why run old tech?

The financial crisis of 2008 was severe – so severe that it’s referred to as the “Great Recession.” The Great Recession was the “worst on record since the Great Depression of the 1930s.”  As the Business Insider says, “The economy was in a very deep hole in 2009.” During the crisis, many companies fought for their very survival. In a bid to save money, companies shelved new technology investments and outsourced certain IT operations offshore.

Outsourcing can be a good business strategy. As Forbes says, “For some companies, outsourcing has made the difference between staying in business and going out of business.” Outsourcing cuts costs and improves efficiency and allows companies to focus on their “core competencies.”  However, outsourcing can also have unintended consequences. You should never outsource services that are strategic to your business (the crown jewels). Several years into the outsourcing trend, it’s become clear that efficient IT is strategic to the future success of all business. Outsourcing Support to a bureaucratic support organization can make rapid change difficult, which results in increased business risk and a stifling of innovation and technical investment. Agile, competitive businesses need agile business models to support them. If you lose speed in IT, you risk losing everything. There is now a trend to “repatriate tech outsourcing.”

Yet, “10 years after the economy tipped into the deepest contraction of the post–World War II era, the Great Recession’s scars remain,” says the Atlantic. We’re still feeling the effects of the Great Recession. Trends such as outsourcing and inadequate IT budgets have delayed investments in modernizing servers that run organizations – servers on which “core competencies” depend.

A path forward

We all know that outdated WS2003 and WS2008 servers are open invitations to infamous security exposures such as NotPetya & WannaCry. We all know that running business-critical applications and personal data on operating systems that are more than a decade old isn’t good practice. Accepting the risk that comes with outdated technical infrastructure and sitting on our hands is tantamount to negligence. Yet, companies that fail to modernize are not choosing to be negligent per se. It’s more likely that companies fail to modernize out of a belief that they have no viable options to address a perceived conundrum: planning to modernize, in the absence of budget.

A fresh install gets you fresh options

The first step in dealing with outdated WS2003 and WS2008 technology is to start planning now for server modernization. Companies can’t disregard the deep scars from the Great Recession, but doing nothing is not a viable strategy. Judicious spending now can save your organization a whole lot later.

You don’t have to undertake a massive software remediation and redevelopment project to address your problem. Instead, you can consider a fresh install of legacy apps on new servers. In some cases, moving legacy applications can defer more than one million dollars in application redevelopment costs.

New servers get you tangible and immediate benefits. They open the possibility of managing server workloads with modern cloud management and DevOps tools. New servers let you get more life out of legacy applications, as well as better and more secure performance. You get to run uncluttered fresh installs of business applications on new and faster servers, or on a low cost, scalable cloud platform. Faster servers allow your users to do more business in less time, with less effort. If you move all the way to WS2016, you can run and manage legacy workloads in Windows Docker containers.

If you’re running applications on old Windows systems:

  • Upgrade your hardware and operating systems to close known hardware security exposures like Meltdown and Spectre.
  • Move and install legacy applications onto modern, secure operating systems like WS2012 and WS2016 to eliminate WannaCry and other malware exposures.
  • Plan, get budget, and move your technology stack forward.

You’ll need to spend some money to do this, but these are modest investments in comparison to spending much more money on redevelopment projects, more cyber security tools, and damage control for business interruptions and a tarnished business brand.

It’s time to get moving

Tools exist to help you automate the migration of legacy applications to new operating systems. Automated server modernization offers a way to move legacy applications to modern servers now. Innovative tools, methodologies, and techniques exist today to make upgrading much easier and less expensive than conventional manual and outsourcing methods. You don’t need install scripts or source code for your legacy applications.

Migration Intelligence saves weeks and months of effort usually needed to upgrade applications to new servers and test them. Migration Intelligence brings real progress, which can unlock future IT budget.

If you’re ready to move and need help with upgrading your Microsoft Server applications or would like to understand Migration Intelligence, don’t hesitate to give us a call. We modernize applications and move them to new secure Windows operating systems every day and are pleased to share what we know.

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