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Migrate Vessel Computers from Windows Server 2003 by July 14, 2015

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Did you hear the news? Microsoft is officially ending support for Windows Server 2003 on July 14th, 2015.

That means if you are using the Windows Server 2003 platform for your vessel computers, you'd better start thinking about migrating to something else soon.

microsoft serve pic
What happens if you don't migrate from Windows Server 2003?

There may be some individuals who ignore the warnings and stick with Windows Server 2003. According to Techday.com:

"It is important to understand what the risks are to your business in not upgrading to a modern version of Windows Server before this deadline.

No updates – After the deadline date, Windows Server will no longer receive updates to help protect your server from malicious software as well as updates to improve the reliability of Windows Server, new drivers for your hardware and more.

No compliance – Lack of compliance with various standards and regulations can be devastating for business (eg, PCI DSS). Without compliance, the new cost of doing business could include paying penalties and astronomically high transaction fees.

No safe haven – Post-EOS, both virtualized and physical instances of Windows Server 2003 will not pass a compliance audit. Ultimately, staying put will cost more in the end, as maintenance costs for ageing hardware will also increase."

Here's a video from Microsoft explaining the issue


What are your server options for your yacht computer system?

If you are one of the many thousands of Windows Server 2003 users who need to migrate, you have a few alternatives.

1. Move to Windows Server 2012 R2This is probably the best option because Windows Server 2012 R2 is the latest server update from Microsoft (updated from Windows Server 2012), so it will probably be supported for at least 6 more years.

2. You could migrate to an earlier Windows Server version, but you run the risk of it becoming obsolete sooner. For instance, I suggest that you don't upgrade from Windows Server 2003 to Windows Server 2008 at this time. According to a whitepaper by International Data Corporation (IDC) and sponsored by Microsoft, Windows Server 2003: Why You Should Get Current , "customers are well advised to not make an interim upgrade to Windows Server 2008 as that product is facing end of mainstream support in January 2015." If you want more specific advice, your vessel IT professional should be able to assess your use patterns and recommend the best server upgrade for you.

3. You could do nothing. This is not recommended for the reasons outlined above. I can't think of any benefits, other than deferring costs associated with migration. But costs you will incur when you don't migrate and have to deal with the issues outlined above will far exceed migration costs, anyway.

Still, there will probably be a fair number of users who will put off server migration either because they are unaware of the consequences or they live in a "crisis management" mode all the time. But anyone who ignores the Windows Server 2003 migration issue is bound to be dealing with a larger computer system crisis in the future. As the IDC whitepaper says, "there are many attractive reasons to voluntarily move forward; the reality is that the threats and risks associated with going beyond the termination of extended support will be the real motivating factors for many customers."

How can you complete the migration?

Once you decide which server to migrate to, you need to complete the migration process. There are a few ways you can do that, depending on your resources.

1. Complete the migration yourself using the Microsoft's Windows Server 2003 Migration Planning Assistant. Warning: you should only do this yourself if you are very experienced with yacht IT. Otherwise, you risk data loss and a host of other frustrating, expensive problems.

2. Get help from a vessel IT expert who can make suggstions to improve your yacht network design and integration.

GCS can help you update your vessel computer server

Even though Microsoft provides information to help with your migration, most people don't have the IT skill set to get it done properly. That is especially true for servers intended to run computer networks on yachts and other vessels.

To make sure this crucial job is done correctly the first time, consider hiring vessel network specialists, such as the Technology Team at Great Circle Systems. We'll analyze your current system and work with you to develop the best server upgrade for your specific situation.

Darren Mayhead is the CEO of Great Circle Systems

He has over 20 years of experience as a superyacht Chief Engineer and British Royal Navy Submarine Engineer and  understands the unique needs of the superyacht industry.


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