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Migration skills shortage looms as Server 2003 DEATH DATE approaches

179 days to escape Microsoft's day of doom

A channel-wide migration skills shortage is a real danger this summer as stragglers strain available resources by making an eleventh hour dash to flee Windows Server 2003, distributor veterans are warning.

Public and private sector organisation have 176 days to escape the software before extended support expires on 14 July, after which point Microsoft stops issuing security patches or bug fixes.

Globally, at last count, there were estimated to be eight million servers running WS2003, with 2.4 million in Europe and 400k physical boxes or 900k instances in dear old Blighty.

Andy Gass, UK managing director at Tech Data, the largest IT distie in the UK, reckons that as happened with Windows XP, end-user organisations, particularly the smaller ones, will hit the migration button late in the day.

“The reality is that IT in any business has multiple challenges; they act on the absolute need to do something. XP client sales growth [took place] much later than expected,” he told El Chan.

Around 27 per cent of desktop and notebooks were still running on Windows XP when the operating system reached its end-of-life date in April last year.

Gartner estimates server migrations take between nine to 15 months, while research from integrator Avanade indicates one in five businesses will miss the July deadline.

Tech Data is readying multi-vendor migration programmes. Feedback from its end-user lead generation team, which passes the leads onto resellers, is that sales will be at the “high end of expectations”.

“There will be tactical opportunities, but we need to ramp the migration effort now because the closer we get to [the end of support date], there is a greater chance of an implementation skills gap [emerging],” said Gass.

Dave Ellis, director of strategy at Arrow Enterprise Computing Solutions, said customers were waking up to the looming support expiry date.

“Businesses need to get plans in place to think about how they’ll go through their process,” he said, agreeing a skills shortage was a risk.

Given the age of WS2003 there likely will be a skills shortage, but “not a violent one”, said Alex Tatham, managing director at British distie Westcoast.

“The refresh is the biggest thing in my budget this year,” he told us. “It will be a driver for a range of server refreshes. End users need a strategy in place, to run an audit and understand where the vulnerabilities are”. ®

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