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4 Important Considerations for your Windows Server Upgrade

Many businesses are faced with the challenge of aging server infrastructure. Product life cycles, hardware performance, and cloud migration options are forcing business leaders to chart a path forward. For many, the biggest issue is whether now is the time for a cloud migration. There are many factors to consider.

In this short post, we hope to clarify some of the big questions and key considerations for those studying their server migration plans. Here are four important considerations:

1. Infrastructure modernization means fewer on-premises servers.

The need for on-premises business servers has changed dramatically in the past five to ten years. Traditional on-premises server functions such as the domain controller or Exchange server have morphed into hosted services or SaaS applications. For many businesses, the domain controller is no longer needed, since authentication services like Azure Active Directory (AD) are now delivered from the cloud and meet the more advanced needs of a highly mobile and increasingly distributed workforce.

When it comes to corporate email and calendaring, moving the Exchange server to a SaaS service like Microsoft Office 365 delivers lower costs, better up-time and easier ongoing maintenance for one of the most essential corporate applications. Even the traditional file server has been eclipsed by the more robust file sync, share and collaboration capabilities of products like Microsoft OneDrive, Sharepoint, and Teams. So, for most business contemplating the future of their on-premises servers, in nearly every case there are more robust cloud-hosted or SaaS based options.

2. Cloud or on-premises? Consider your line of business applications.

While SaaS and cloud applications have taken the market by storm, not every line of business application is ready for the cloud. Many of these legacy business applications are nested deep within organizational workflows and are difficult to change overnight. There are literally thousands of line of business applications that were designed for on-premises deployment scenarios. Issues of bandwidth, latency, and database access prohibit the wholesale migration of these applications to Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) cloud environments, such as Microsoft Azure, AWS, or Google Cloud. In a lot cases, the best approach is to simply upgrade on-premises servers to new hardware running Windows Server 2019.

3. SaaS Alternatives: might SaaS applications be the best move?

Another consideration is whether to retire legacy line of business applications and to move to SaaS based versions of the same applications. This can be a tricky situation. Many Independent Software Vendors (ISVs) have both legacy, on-premises versions of their applications and SaaS based versions. In some cases, the newer SaaS based applications lack many key features native in the legacy applications. For some organizations, this is a step backward and therefore non-starter.

Moreover, lots of workflows and integrations may have been developed over the years that will be difficult to port into the new SaaS based versions of the applications. In addition, sometimes the licensing models with SaaS based applications are ultimately more expensive than legacy applications, even with support and maintenance contracts factored in. It is not a given that a move to SaaS based applications saves money; sometimes total licensing costs can go up. It is important to work with your application expert or IT service provider to explore these issues before a SaaS migration.

4. Cloud migration means more security, agility, and capacity, but not necessarily lower total costs.

If you migrate your Windows Server workloads to virtual machines running in the cloud, you should experience better overall security, agility and capacity management. From a security perspective, cloud hosted VMs running in Azure, AWS, or Google Cloud have a rich set of options for layered security. When your servers are running in a world-class cloud environment, up-time and physical security are vastly improved, not to mention the avoidance of traditional on-premises risks such as power outages, fires, floods, or other site-wide disasters.

Hosting your servers in an IaaS environment also gives you infinite scaling and capacity management options. Additional VMs and compute capacity can be provisioned easily, with a few clicks of the mouse. Unfortunately, cloud hosted servers have lots of different pricing parameters and variable costs. While these solutions are configurable and flexible, nothing comes free and cost over runs and unpleasant surprises are common. Suffice it to say, there are tremendous advantages with migrating to the cloud. However, a lower total cost of ownership is not a given in most scenarios, at least in the short term.

Ask the team at Protek Support to explore your server and cloud migration options today. The Protek Support team is standing by to help new and existing clients upgrade legacy servers to the latest operating systems and deployment scenarios.

Reach out to Michelle Lawson at Protek Support to get your own 1-on-1 upgrade consultation. Book a time with Michelle today.