End of Support is Coming

End of support for Windows Server 2008 and 2008 R2 is rapidly approaching. On January 14th, 2020 support for Windows Server 2008 and 2008 R2 will end; support for SQL Server 2008 and 2008 R2 already completed on July 9th, 2019.

Window Server Risks

What does this mean for my organization?

End of support means the end of monthly security updates and support from Microsoft. Without Microsoft’s regular security updates and patches to protect your environment, you expose your applications and data running on the platform to several risks. These risks may include the potential for security breaches, attacks, and compliance failure for important regulations such as GDPR, HIPAA, PCI, Sarbanes-Oxley, FedRAMP, and others. Read this datasheet for more details.

The requirements for maintaining compliant IT workloads vary depending on the regulation, but almost all of them forbid the use of unsupported software. Even if unsupported software is not officially prohibited, most compliance initiatives require the prompt performance of security patching. With this in mind, it’s particularly difficult for an organization to justify using software for which patches are no longer being created. Perhaps the most critical reason for IT professionals to migrate away from Windows Server 2008 and SQL Server 2008 before their end of life date, is that doing so is a matter of self-preservation.

The risks of not upgrading

Neglecting an end of life scenario can save a bit of money upfront; however, the risks associated with ignoring the end of support are far costlier. These issues vary in severity and can be anything – a security breach, an unfamiliar error message, or perhaps a compatibility problem. IT professionals don’t want to be in a situation where they need to explain to management that an issue has occurred, and can’t be addressed, because the workload impacted runs on unsupported software.

We understand that upgrading to a newer version of Windows Server and SQL server can be challenging and requires validation work. However, if your organization isn’t already acting on a plan to migrate and modernize your infrastructure before the end of support, you’re already behind.

Time to modernize

End of support is an ideal time to transform your IT platform and move your infrastructure and applications to the cloud. Nevertheless, it can be difficult to upgrade everything before the end of support deadlines. You cannot wait months and years or dedicate your IT organization to spend time upgrading your critical end of support IT infrastructure.

So how do you quickly ensure you can avoid potential critical security and compliance interruptions? What are my choices from here?

Tactical “Lift-n-Shift” your servers to Azure

The good news is Microsoft announced that Extended Security Updates would be available, for FREE, in Azure for 2008 and 2008 R2 versions of Windows Server and SQL Server. This support will be available for three more years after the end of support deadline. Despite this, organizations with the end of support technologies need a quick solution for migrating their IT infrastructure to Azure. Organizations must remain secure and compliant without taking months or years to create a strategic cloud transformation plan.

We often see the struggle to balance these two competing needs with large enterprise organizations who are faced with a myriad of legacy technologies and the pressure to modernize. The options are plentiful, the current infrastructure is complex, and decisions aren’t easy. This common scenario made us rethink how we can approach modernization, both quickly and strategically. Instead, address the immediate need to move out of a data center or end of support technology while working towards a well-thought-out cloud transformation roadmap. AIS CTO Vishwas Lele details this Two-Step approach to Cloud Transformation Journey using a Tactical “Lift-n-Shift” approach to rehost infrastructure on Azure.

Step 1: Move your end of support infrastructure into Azure as-is

Migrate your Windows Server and SQL Server applications to Microsoft Azure and breathe new life into your server infrastructure. The first step of this two-step approach perfectly aligns with the needs of migrating end of support workloads to Azure with minimal to no changes to your existing footprint (and near-zero downtime).

This positions you to:

  • Immediately meet deadlines for the end of support
  • Remain secure and compliant with critical business & industry regulations
  • Quickly leverage Azure capabilities (giving you tangible benefits)
  • Generate lasting cost-savings with Microsoft’s financially attractive ability to port your existing licenses to Azure

Some organizations shy away from a Lift-n-Shift approach. On the surface, it may seem wasteful, as we are duplicating your current footprint in Azure. However, by completing this effort in weeks, not months or years, duplication is minimized. Pair this with AIS’s FinOps methodology for cloud financial management best practices and significant savings can be achieved by moving your servers to an Azure-optimized infrastructure. By comparison, running your Windows Servers in AWS could be as much as 5 times more expensive to run Windows Server.

Step 2: Application innovation and modernization

Once you’ve started moving your on-premises infrastructure to the cloud, the modernization efforts begin, and a whole new world of opportunities to transform is realized. Even the modernization of your legacy applications can be accelerated by embracing the services of Azure cloud.

CHECK OUT OUR WHITEPAPER & LEARN ABOUT CLOUD-BASED APP MODERNIZATION APPROACHES

AIS has you covered with the migration of your infrastructure to Azure

With just a few months left for the Windows Server End of Support deadline (with the SQL deadline already passed), updating your IT infrastructure must be a priority to avoid business disruption. Even with standardized processes and years of experience, deploying new versions of Windows and SQL Server is no small task in the enterprise.

Our experts have Azure covered so you can focus on doing business. AIS can help you jumpstart this process with a comprehensive cloud migration assessment. Our program gives you flexibility in gauging readiness to leverage cloud technology for your servers. By using machine learning and data collection, we can provide you a portfolio inventory, data-driven insights, and recommendations to aid in defining your migration strategy. Also, we’ll provide detailed economic costs to run your servers in the cloud. You’ll have a clear line of sight into the cost of running your servers in the cloud, as well as a clear roadmap for migration.

With this assessment, we can quickly prepare your cloud infrastructure and to begin migrating servers to an environment that’s scalable and secure. We can get you migrated soon with our extensive experience and expertise.

Start you Azure migration planning today!

The time to act is now! While most coverage surrounding the end of support appears to emphasize the negative aspects, organizations that approach the situation through the right lens stand to reap the benefits of modernization.

Part of this approach requires organizations to choose a trusted and capable partner with the experience and skillsets to ensure a successful migration. With the impending deadlines quickly approaching, it’s time to take action.

Let AIS accelerate your end of support migration to Azure, starting with a cloud migration assessment, followed up a roadmap and the execution of an expert migration strategy.

GET AN ASSESSMENT OF YOUR WINDOWS SERVER 2008 WORKLOADS

Sound Familiar?

It’s not a sentiment you would expect from most IT decision-makers. However, it’s something we hear from an increasing number of organizations.

The benefits of a well-thought-out cloud transformation roadmap are not lost on them.

  • They know that, in an ideal world, they ought to start with an in-depth assessment of their application portfolio, in line with the best practice – “migrate your capabilities, not apps or VMs”.
  • They also realize the need to develop a robust cloud governance model upfront.
  • And ultimately, they understand the need to undertake an iterative migration process that takes into account “organizational change management” best practices.

At the same time, these decision-makers face real challenges with their existing IT infrastructure that simply cannot wait months and years for a successful cloud transformation to take shape. They can’t get out of their on-premises data centers soon enough. This notion isn’t limited to organizations with fast-approaching Data Center (DC) lease renewal deadlines or end of support products, either.

So, how do we balance the two competing objectives:

  • Immediate need to move out of the DC
  • Carefully crafted long-term cloud transformation

A Two-Step Approach to Your Cloud Transformation Journey

From our experience with a broad range of current situations, goals, and challenges, we recommend a two-step cloud transformation approach that addresses both your immediate challenges and the organization’s long-term vision for cloud transformation.

  1. Tactical “Lift-n-Shift” to the Cloud – As the name suggests, move the current DC footprint as is (VMs, databases, storage network. etc.) to Azure
  2. Strategic Cloud Transformation – Once operational in the cloud, incrementally and opportunistically move parts of your application portfolio to higher-order Azure PaaS/cloud-native services

Tactical “Lift-n-Shift” to the Cloud

Lift n Shift Approach to Cloud Transformation

On the surface, step #1 above may appear wasteful. After all, we are duplicating your current footprint in Azure. But keep in mind that step #1 is designed for completion in days or weeks, not months or years. As a result, the duplication is minimized. At the same time, step #1 immediately puts you in a position to leverage Azure capabilities, giving you tangible benefits with minimal to no changes to your existing footprint.

Here are a few examples of benefits:

  • Improve the security posture – Once you are in Azure, you tap into security capabilities such as intrusion detection and denial of service attack solely by being in Azure. Notice that I deliberately did not cite Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) tools like Azure Sentinel. Technically you can take advantage of Azure Sentinel for on-premises workloads.
  • Replace aging hardware – Your hardware may be getting old but isn’t old enough for a Capex-powered refresh. Moving your VMs to Azure decouples you from the underlying hardware. “But won’t that be expensive, since you are now paying by usage per minute?” you ask. Not necessarily and certainly not in the long run. Consider options like Reserved Instance (RI) pricing that can offer an up to 80% discount based on a one- or three-year commitment.

Furthermore, you can combine RI with Azure Hybrid Benefits (AHUB) which provides discounts for licenses already owned. Finally, don’t forget to take into account the savings from decreased needs for power, networks, real estate, and the cost of resources to manage all the on-premises assets. Even if you can’t get out of the DC lease completely, you may be able to negotiate a modular reduction of your DC footprint. Please refer to Gartner research that suggests that over time, the cloud can become cost-effective.

AMP Move out of Data Center

Source – https://blogs.gartner.com/marco-meinardi/2018/11/30/public-cloud-cheaper-than-running-your-data-center/

  • Disaster Recovery (DR) – Few organizations have a DR plan setup that is conducive for ongoing DR tests. Having an effective DR plan is one of the most critical responsibilities of IT. Once again, since geo-replication is innate to Azure, your disks are replicated to an Azure region that is at least 400 miles away, by default. Given this, DR is almost out-of-the-box.
  • Extended lease of life on out of support software – If you are running an Operating System (OS), such as Windows Server 2008 or SQL Server 2008, moving to Azure extends the security updates for up to three years from the “end of support” date.
  • Getting out of the business of “baby-sitting” database servers – Azure managed instances offer you the ability to take your existing on-premises SQL Server databases and move them to Azure with minimal downtime. Once your database is an Azure SQL Managed Instance, you don’t have to worry about patching and backup, thereby significantly reducing the cost of ownership.
  • Take baby steps towards automation and self-service – Self-service is one of the key focus areas for most IT organizations. Once again, since every aspect of Azure is API driven, organizations can take baby steps towards automated provisioning.
  • Get closer to a data lake – I am sure you have heard the quote “AI is the new electricity”. We also know that Artificial Intelligence (AI) needs lots and lots of data to train the Machine Learning (ML) algorithms. By moving to Azure, it is that much easier to capture the “data exhaust” coming out the applications in a service like Azure Data Lake. In turn, Azure Data Lake can help turn this data into intelligence.

Strategic Cloud Transformation

Strategic Cloud Transformation

Once you have completed step #1 by moving your on-premises assets to the cloud, you are now in a position to undertake continuous modernization efforts aligned to your business priorities.

Common approaches include:

  • Revise – Capture application and application tiers “as-is” in containers and run on a managed orchestrator like Azure Kubernetes Service. This approach requires minimal changes to the existing codebase. For more details of this approach, including a demo, read Migrate and Modernize with Kubernetes on Azure Government.
  • Refactor – Modernize by re-architecting to target Platform as a Service (PaaS) and “serverless” technologies. This approach requires more significant recoding to target PaaS services but allows you to take advantage of cloud provider managed services. For more information, check out our “Full PaaS” Approach to Modernizing Legacy Apps.
  • Rebuild – Complete rewrite of the applications using cloud-native technologies like Kubernetes, Envoy, and Istio. Read our blog, What Are Cloud-Native Technologies & How Are They Different from Traditional PaaS Offerings, for more information.
  • Replace – Substitute an existing application, in its entirety, with Software as a Service (SaaS) or an equivalent application developed using a no-code/low-code platform.

The following table summarizes the various approaches for modernization in terms of factors such as code changes, operational costs, and DevOps maturity.

Compare App Modernization Approaches

Azure Migration Program (AMP)

Microsoft squarely aligns with this two-step approach. At the recent Microsoft partner conference #MSInspire, Julia White announced AMP (Azure Migration Program).

AMP brings together the following:

Wrapping Up

A two-step migration offers a programmatic approach to unlock the potential of the cloud quickly. You’ll experience immediate gains from a tactical move to the cloud and long-term benefits from a strategic cloud transformation that follows. Microsoft programs like AMP, combined with over 200+ Azure services, make this approach viable. If you’re interested in learning more about how you can get started with AMP, and which migration approach makes the most sense for your business goals, reach out to AIS today.