Your Windows Server 2012 End-of-Life Options
We knew it was coming, and the official announcement is finally here.
Microsoft made the significant announcement in May of 2023: Windows server 2012 and Windows Server 2012 R2 will both reach End of Life and End of Support later this year, on October 10, 2023.
For businesses with on-premise servers that weren’t bought and configured in the last few years, this announcement means change is coming.
We’re here to help businesses minimize the disruptions that will come with Server 2012 riding off into the sunset. If you’re in that camp or believe you may be, this article is for you.
We’ll walk you through the following:
- Exactly what this announcement is
- The implications of a product like this reaching End-of-Life
- The risks to your business if you don’t take action
- What your options are
The Announcement: The End of Server 2012
First, lets start with the announcement itself. In Microsofts own words:
“Windows Server 2012 and Windows Server 2012 R2 will end on October 10, 2023. After this date, these products will no longer receive security updates, non-security updates, bug fixes, technical support, or online technical content updates.”
It’s as simple as that: Microsoft isn’t saying that all servers will stop working that day, but they won’t be receiving any more support, updates, or anything.
Technically speaking, there is one exception that’ll keep those servers up to date with support and patches for those clients that can’t upgrade. Microsoft offers – at a premium – offer something called Extended Security Updates. However, these cost extra, aren’t good as full support, and essentially mean you’d be throwing money at a dead product. If you suspect you’re one of these edge cases, we’re happy to chat with you individually and either confirm your suspicions or help you find a better course forward.
The Future of Server 2012
So, what are the implications of an End of Support / End-of-Life announcement like this?
First, security: every software and OS product has flaws. Some of these, once discovered, allow the bad guys to do bad things within the software, like steal data or snoop on network activity.
Security updates are the way that software and OS makers fight back: once these vulnerabilities and exploits are discovered, software makers fix them and release those fixes in the form of security updates.
(…and this is why we harp on keeping your computers and servers up to date. They are literally keeping you safe from known digital attacks.)
It’s not just Windows updates that you’re going to have to worry about. Many software vendors don’t keep supporting operating systems that have reached EOL. This means updates, support, and patches for those products (for example QuickBooks) will remain just as they are after October 10th.
Have you ever noticed that hardware and software both seem to perform worse over time? The hardware side make sense: newer, more demanding features come along, and your older hardware can’t do them like new hardware can. But why does the same software, running on the same machine, gradually grow more sluggish or unstable?
The answers are complicated, but the takeaway isn’t: as computing environments evolve, software must evolve to keep up and stay stable. Thats what non-security software updates do, more or less.
When a product reaches End-of-Life, it tends to become progressively less stable – because no one is making the needed adjustments to keep the product running well under current conditions.
Ticking Clock on Future-proofing
The last implication that we’ll cover is a little hard to name, but its easy to understand.
Lets say that you’re finally going to upgrade your phone to the newest iPhone. If your phone is just a few years old, moving everything from your old to device to the new device is pretty easy and seems to just happen at the click of a few buttons.
What if, one day you wake up and your shiny new iPhone just stopped working and the only “backup” phone you have is a 10+ year old iPhone 4?
Getting a backup of your new phone is going to be a nightmare, if even possible. Getting the newest version of iOS isn’t going to work as hardware inside the phone can’t handle the newest version. Lets not even go into getting the phone service itself working as SIM cards have changed over the years as well.
What does this have to do with Server 2012? As long as Microsoft is actively supporting server 2012, it’s also actively supporting future-proofing. Right now, you can find guides on migrating Server 2012 to a half dozen other Microsoft products.
Once support ends, the clock starts ticking on future-proofing. Wait too long, and it’ll be like trying to make that ancient iPhone work in 2023.
The Risks to Your Business if You Don’t Take Action
Hopefully after the last section we’ve convinced you that Server 2012 EOL is a big deal, but lets talk about the risks your business faces if you don’t move away from Server 2012
Security and Stability
Just like we described above, once Server 2012 reaches End of Support, any vulnerabilities that are discovered will remain unpatched. The same goes for stability issues in the OS.
Microsoft is essentially saying “Upgrade, or you’re on your own.” If you don’t you’ll be vulnerable to attacks and to instability in increasingly severe ways.
This one’s simple: newer operating systems can do things older ones can’t Sticking with the old one means you’re missing out on capabilities that your competitors are enjoying.
Would you like for your computer login to match your M365 login? Not possible with Server 2012.
Remember what we said about future-proofing: if you don’t upgrade now, you may find that upgrading to something new is much harder later and possibly more expensive (thanks to that lack of support).
Your Options for Moving Forward
Since change is coming, let’s talk about your options for moving your business forward.
The first, simplest option is just upgrading to Server 2022. Unfortunately, many of the servers running Server 2012 are just too old to do so.
The second option is upgrading those old servers. When you replace a 2010-era server with its modern equivalent, the new one will come preloaded with Server 2022. It’s just a matter of moving items over, and you’re back in business.
Third and last: you could take this opportunity to move to a fully cloud environment and get rid of that on-premise server entirely. This is the most invasive option, but also one that delivers the most value for your business.
With any of these options, you’ll gain the benefits of a new operating system. With options 2 and 3, you’ll gain more processing power and storage capabilities, too.
These are the most common solutions for businesses still running Microsoft Windows Server 2012 or 2012 R2, but we know every case has its own unique considerations.
If you’d benefit from a professional consultation on the right path forward for your business, we’d love to help.