Small Business Server reaches end-of-life: what happens next?

Business Management, Ecommerce, Industry News By Rhys Little, 31st January 2014

Microsoft is synonymous with business; its products can be found helping small enterprises across the globe to operate efficiently and successfully. Whether it’s an Exchange server, Office 365 or Windows, many firms would be lost without the Redmond company’s products and solutions.

So with Small Business Server (SBS) 2003 entering end-of-life status in April 2014, a bit of panic is inevitable. It has acted as the backbone of IT infrastructures around the world for so long, but businesses are now being ushered over to Microsoft’s replacement, Windows Server Essentials.

The inevitable end

Microsoft operates on ten-year support lifecycles, so it’s fair to say that companies which have developed dependencies on SBS 2003 have had a fair bit of warning that this time would come. In fact, the end is also near for two of Microsoft’s other flagship products; Office 2003 and Windows XP will both be wound down in April as well.

Of course, it’d be wrong to expect an overnight vanishing act from SBS 2003 or any of Microsoft’s other products. Software will still function and businesses will be able to continue relying on it if they wish, but should they?
End-of-life basically means that security updates will no longer be provided to users. Without the necessary patches, companies which don’t move over to Windows Server Essentials – and there will be a few – are left extremely vulnerable.

The next step for small businesses

Businesses may be reluctant to take the natural step onto Windows Server Essentials. Some of SBS’s loyal followers will simply be against change while others will rue the fact that they could be required to fork out more money for new equipment.

It’s important to remember, though, that ten years is a long time. It’d be unthinkable for businesses to operate using decade-old mobile phones – why should IT infrastructure be so different? SBS 2003 coming to an end should be seen as the perfect opportunity to bring things back up to date. For many, it’s inevitable that a move like this will involve the cloud.

Capitalising on the cloud’s potential

Buzzword status aside, the cloud has a lot to offer businesses of all sizes. Flexibility is one of the biggest selling points; companies are able to grow without being forced to invest in new hardware and licensing that they may no longer need at a later date.

The approach ensures cost-efficiency, which is undoubtedly one of the key ingredients of any successful business operation. Subscriptions fees change only according to the resources being used, so spending can be kept minimal at all times.

There’s little doubt that Microsoft’s decision to end its support for SBS 2003 has, and will continue to cause stress for businesses of all kinds. By shifting infrastructure to the cloud, though, these enterprises are in a position to move forward into the future, constantly building on their success without having to worry about being put in the same situation all over again in ten years’ time.