After the somewhat rocky and ultimately controversial release of Microsoft’s Windows Vista operating system, the technology giant finally released a viable successor – Windows 7 – in October of 2009. Instantly, it was seen as a return to form for the company that once ruled the desktop computing market. In as little as six months, Windows 7 sold a massive 100 million copies. 630 million licenses had been sold just a few years later, by July of 2012. As of April of 2019, it still has an impressive 33.38% desktop market share worldwide – this despite the fact that Windows 8.1 and Windows 10 have also been released during the years since.
Windows 7 is not an isolated instance of Microsoft’s older, soon to be unsupported applications currently maintaining a pervasive presence and dominance in the software space. In fact, at the end of 2018, more than 50% of SQL Server instances deployed were SQL Server 20008 R2 or earlier. And while Server OS market shares are not readily available or easy to determine, a principle program manager in the Windows Server high availability and storage group tweeted, in January 2018, that Windows Server comprised approximately 70% of server OS installations and that almost 40% of that number represented Windows Server 2008/2008 R2 instances. To put the number of Windows Server installations in perspective, according to the Docker container platform company, out of 21 million enterprise applications, 80% of them run on Windows Server with an astonishing 70% of that number running on Windows Server 2008 R2 or an earlier version —- over 11 Million instances!
The fact that Windows 7, SQL Server 2008/2008 R2 and Windows Server 2008/2008 R2 are still so popular – and widely used, among small businesses in particular – is problematic for the countless businesses which continue to rely on these products. On January 14, 2020, Windows 7 will reach “End of Support” status – just as its predecessor Windows XP did years ago, in April of 2014. It will join other popular solutions of its era, like Microsoft’s SQL Server 2008/2008 R2 and Windows Server 2008/2008 R2 which will be unsupported on July 9, 2019 and January 14, 2020 respectively!
Since the initial announcements have been made, Microsoft has urged people still using these products to upgrade to updated software versions as soon as they can. This isn’t just an attempt to get you to spend more money to replace something that is “still working,” however. Choosing to remain with these critical applications after they hit “End of Support” and are officially retired exposes your business to a wide range of potentially devastating consequences, all of which are worth exploring.
The Dangers of an Unsupported Operating System: Breaking Things Down
“End of Support,” also commonly referred to as “End of Life” and by similar terms, is the point that all software reaches when it is no longer supported by its original developer – in this case, Microsoft. That means that not only will Microsoft no longer offer support for these products, but they will also stop offering security updates, too.
That last point is particularly important, as experts estimate that as many as 360,000 new malware samples were detected every single day in 2017 – a number that is only expected to increase as time goes on. Yes, part of what you were getting from all of those Microsoft updates over the years included new features and major refinements to old ones. But you were also getting a constant stream of critical security updates designed to patch vulnerabilities before hackers could take advantage of them – and sooner rather than later, that will no longer be the case.
It is absolutely imperative that you understand the gravity of this situation. Consider the fact that not only do the majority of hacks, intrusion attempts and malware operations already target small businesses in particular, but another study estimates that about 60% of all small businesses close their doors permanently within just six months of even a “modest” breach. Likewise, the average cost of a single consolidated data breach incident worldwide rose to $3.86 million last year alone.
By putting off action (or worse, by doing nothing), you’re potentially leaving your organization totally exposed on three separate fronts. At that point, something terrible happening is no longer a question of “if,” but “when.”
When you use ANY piece of software that is no longer being supported, these security issues are no longer being addressed at all – let alone in the proactive way needed to make sure you can stay one step ahead of the people who want to do you harm. This ultimately means that every single day, it’s becoming more and more likely that you will fall victim to some type of devastating security incident – the kind that stands to jeopardize everything you’ve already worked so hard to build in the first place.
Beyond the heightened security risk, there are other significant reasons to move to an updated version of these software instances. If you are in a vertical that is highly regulated like healthcare or financial services and use software that is not supported, you are likely not able to meet your compliance obligations as many compliance regulations specify that workloads must be run on platforms supported by the vendor.
This is ultimately why Microsoft has made such a big deal about getting people ready for upcoming “End of Support” dates – and why the dates are announced so far in advance. Switching something that makes up such a core part of your infrastructure isn’t as simple as flipping a light switch. It’s a careful, delicate process that requires a great deal of time to “get right.” This is also why, if you haven’t already begun to think about what your own upgrade path actually looks like, now would be an excellent time to start.
These End of Support dates are going to arrive whether you want them to or not. That’s not something you have a say in – the only thing you can control is how prepared you are for what this next chapter in your business from a technology perspective actually looks like.
Where Do We Go from Here?
From a certain perspective, the next step is simple – just upgrade to the current version of the Windows operating system. But, as is true with SQL Server 2008 and Windows Server 2008, oftentimes this is a lot easier said than done.
These solutions often provide the foundation for many of the line-of-business and operational applications that companies have come to depend on. It’s not difficult to imagine a situation where your applications will be incompatible with newer Microsoft software – and at that point, you have an entirely new list of problems to worry about that have little to do with those outlined above.
It’s safe to say that there are a lot of ways in which you can “get this wrong” at this most critical juncture in your business’ history, which is ultimately why finding the right technology partner like Outer Edge is so important. We can not only help you navigate the upgrade to a new operating system with as few of the potential problems as possible, but by taking a proactive approach to technology we can also f help you develop the type of Technology Roadmap necessary to make sure that these are the types of issues you don’t have to worry about in the future.
The Outer Edge Approach
Building a Technology Roadmap gives us an opportunity to consider not just the technology you need but the implications of that technology on your long-term goals and objectives as a business. By taking the time to learn as much about your organization and the way it needs to run as possible, we can organically address issues like:
- Whether those legacy applications you’re currently using can help take your business to the “next level” at all.
- How to leverage technology to support and empower not only your business’ continued expansion, but also new revenue models or additional service lines you might want to explore.
- How to use today’s technology to meet your expectations both today, tomorrow and even five years from now.
- We can also uncover opportunities to use technology to improve efficiency and reduce manual tasks across the board.
All told, our goal is to help you develop your unique Technology Roadmap to both optimize your current operations and keep pace with changing requirements in your marketplace. All of this is possible by way of an active, forward-thinking partnership built to support decisions with full knowledge of the latest technology, by way of flexible, monthly managed IT services that are delivered by experts in the field.
What you’ll be left with is more than just an opportunity to make sure that your company comes through “End of Support” dates unscathed. You’ll have a rock solid foundation of dependable technology and personalized support, ensuring that you have access to every last resource needed to thrive.
By partnering with Outer Edge, you won’t have to worry about what happens the next time an operating system or a key piece of software is “retired” by its original manufacturer. You’ll be able to devote your attention on the factors that matter most – like creating the type of competitive advantage that will last a generation.
Contact Outer Edge Today
If you’d like to find out more information about how Outer Edge can help you overcome the challenges presented by “End of Support”, or if you’d just like to learn more about how a partner like Outer Edge can help with these issues while also providing personalized and ongoing managed IT services for businesses ready to embrace a cutting edge infrastructure, please don’t delay – contact us today by calling 1-844-OET-EDGE (844-638-3343) or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.