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Disruption Ahead for Those Who Ignore End-of-Life for Microsoft OS Products Blog Feature
Marty Kaufman

By: Marty Kaufman on November 30th, 2018

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Disruption Ahead for Those Who Ignore End-of-Life for Microsoft OS Products

Executive Insights | Cyber Security

A massive technology ride is gaining speed as we get ready to move into 2019, and it’s going to cause a major disruption for those who ignore it. Microsoft has given us a lot of time to get used to the idea that support for some of our favorite desktop and server operating systems will end in early 2020.

Windows 7, Windows Server 2008, and SQL Server 2008 all have newer versions available. You may be thinking that it's not a big deal -- that it’s just a ploy by Microsoft to get us to buy more of their products.

I can assure you, however, that it’s a HUGE deal, and here’s why.

Security Risks

Millions of people are using Windows 7 right now. When Microsoft ceases to support this operating system in January 2020, they’ll stop developing patches for security vulnerabilities. Security holes are found in software all the time, and Microsoft does a good job of closing those holes by putting out regular patches.

So, the end of support means no more patches, but that doesn’t mean that hackers will stop looking for holes. Any security vulnerabilities found after the end-of-life date will not be patched. Hackers will use this to their advantage.

Security is one of the biggest challenges the IT industry has ever seen.

2018 was by far the most disruptive year on record for cyber attacks, and it’s only going to get worse in 2019. Organizations and individuals who continue to use Windows 7 and Server 2008 beyond the end-of-life date can expect to face an even greater level of cyber risk, which will increase their overall business risk.

Related: Learn how to avoid disruption and downtime when you make your Windows 7 to 10 transition. 

Supply Shortage

Updating workstations and servers to the new operating systems is a huge challenge for IT service providers and users -- there’s a lot more to the process than just downloading and installing the new software!

Sometimes these updates require people to upgrade their equipment as well. Manufacturers like Dell and HP have already started to let us know about shortages of machines.

So, if you’re waiting until 2019 to get started with your transition, you may get what you can get… not what you want.

But wait, it gets better!

Labor Shortage

January 2020 is only 13 months away from right now. Seems like a long time, right?

Well, if you haven’t started replacing old equipment and software yet, there’s a very good chance that there will not be enough IT resources available to replace all of the remaining systems.

Here at Accent, we have been proactively talking about updates and upgrades for the entire year of 2018. About 30% of the machines that need to be replaced have been approved by the respective companies that need them. That leaves 70% of the machines out there to be upgraded in 2019. We are already scheduled out to March 2019 for non-urgent upgrade projects. In my 30 years of being in the IT business, this is the first time that this situation has ever happened.

And we’re not the only ones facing these conditions -- that's another thing that makes planning for 2019 a challenge.

The US is at almost full employment, specifically in the technology sector. This is great for the economy and it provides countless opportunities for businesses to grow, but this situation creates frustrating limits. There are very few people that we can add to our staff to complete the number of projects that need to be done in 2019.

Additional Planning for Cloud Migrations

Lastly, end-of-life for the server products has created a giant demand for cloud migrations.

Moving to the cloud sounds great. Why would you want to put in a new physical server when you could go to the cloud?

What a lot of people don’t realize is that internet bandwidth and security must be considered very carefully for a cloud migration. Most companies don’t have the necessary Internet Service Provider (ISP) resources or the proper security infrastructure to support this transition without a significant financial investment in monthly ISP and security fees.

I hope that my message doesn’t come off as all gloom and doom. Technology changes are exciting, but they create some serious situations for us to consider. My intent is to communicate a sense of urgency for those reading this who might not realize the severity of the situation they’re facing by waiting, or even ignoring, these end-of-support events.

Maybe Microsoft will extend the dates again. Who knows? What I do know is that planning ahead is the best way to avoid a disruption.


About Marty Kaufman

Marty Kaufman is Founder and President of Accent Computer Solutions, Inc., a Southern California-based innovator in IT thinking. He got his start in the world of Big Data as Manager of Information Systems for General Dynamics. He earned his B.S. degree in Computer Information Systems from California Polytechnic University, Pomona in 1985 and started Accent Computer Solutions as a consulting firm in 1987. He has spent his entire career researching and implementing Information Technology strategies and processes to help his clients reduce the cost and risk of IT.

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