Companies are constantly faced with the challenge of bringing their IT infrastructure up to date. One of the fundamental components in many corporate networks is the Windows Server. Version 2012 R2 was and remained a popular choice even after its successors were released, but now the end of extended support is imminent. What does this specifically mean for existing users and what switching options do they have?
As soon as a server product leaves Microsoft’s doors, an end-of-life has already been set. Microsoft has long divided this into “end of mainstream support” and “end of extended support”. Mainstream support for Windows Server 2012 R2 expired on October 9, 2018. Customers who wish to continue receiving support purchase Extended Support and receive an additional five years of security patches and support. This deadline has now been reached on October 10, 2023. But even then, for many customers it is still relevant to continue operating the infrastructure and not carry out an upgrade. Therefore, even after the end-of-life, Microsoft offers another end-of-life as part of the extended security update program (ESU for short – Extended Security Update).
The end of support has far-reaching implications for companies still using this version – and they should be carefully considered.
Targeted by attackers
First and foremost is the security risk, because without regular security updates and patches, systems are vulnerable to security gaps. Hackers actively seek out popular, outdated systems to exploit vulnerabilities. Companies that use unpatched systems expose themselves to significant security risk. Especially with a server operating system as popular as Windows Server 2012 R2, the focus of attackers will initially be on this.
Another point that should not be ignored for companies is compliance: such requirements are particularly important in regulated industries. Using an unsupported operating system can result in significant compliance issues and legal consequences.
Companies tend to underestimate Microsoft’s support because they haven’t had to use it so far. Now this is also no longer applicable and when problems arise, Microsoft relies on this clause and refuses support. This means that companies are on their own. This can lead to longer downtimes and even IT standstill and can therefore be a decisive cost factor.
The discontinuation of Microsoft support also includes support for third-party products. Even if the systems may have to be maintained because of legacy applications that only run on Windows Server 2012 R2, this does not mean that other manufacturers are also stagnating in the development of their products. It can quickly happen that software that was still working the day before is no longer compatible due to an update from the manufacturer and stops working.
Not just a security risk
In the end, it remains the same: The IT landscape is constantly evolving and outdated technology can cause companies to lose touch with new developments and innovations. This can have a long-term impact on a company’s competitiveness.
Users of Windows Server 2012 R2 should therefore think very carefully about whether they continue to rely on a system that is now outdated – because the disadvantages clearly outweigh the advantages. And they have to make the change sooner or later anyway. iX will explain what options there are in tomorrow’s follow-up article.
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