It’s the end of the line for Windows Server 2000 and XP SP2, says Ronan Geraghty

12 Mar 2010

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Microsoft is about to discontinue support for its Windows Server 2000 and Windows XP operating systems. So what now? Ronan Geraghty is Server Business Group Lead with Microsoft Ireland.

It’s hard to believe 10 years have passed since the Y2K drama and the arrival of Windows Server 2000. Would many firms still be running this and what’s going to happen?

It was originally called NT 5.0 and then new versions like the Windows 2000 Server Professional arrived on the scene.

The server software is reaching the end of its life on 13 July 2010 and what that means is that all the standards and support for it are ending. It had five years of mainstream use and five years of extended support so it’s actually at the upper end of industry norms.

Once 13 July arrives, it will mean that security updates and fixes will no longer be available and what we want to do is ensure that every business in Ireland still running it has enough runway to put in place a migration plan and migrate to a newer platform.

Running unsupported software is a risk to firms if they are subject to compliance regulation. We would estimate that today one in 10 servers in Ireland would still be running Windows 2000 Server.

What is virtualisation and why should Irish business owners be interested in it?

If you look at some businesses today, they would have anything between a handful right up to hundreds of servers, many of them handling defined tasks; a CRM server, a finance server, an email server, a web server, etc.

Most of these machines would be sitting idle and running at 15pc capacity which is an enormous waste.

Virtualisation allows firms to reduce the number of servers they need by turning them into "virtual" servers, sitting on one or two servers. Those remaining servers would be made to run at a higher capacity of around 50pc or higher.

So you are effectively doing more with less equipment.

Microsoft spends $8bn a year on R&D and currently virtualisation is the big thing in the server world. What are the advantages of moving to virtualisation?

Lakeland Dairies are a fantastic example of the type of savings that can be realised. The company was able to reduce its server footprint from 35 servers down to just two.

Most firms would quickly identify the capital expenditure savings due to reduced data-centre real estate.

If you think about it, average server utilisation is 15pc. If you have a large number of machines running at once at just that capacity and mostly sitting idle it is a waste of electricity for one thing.

The ability to make more efficient use of your hardware by reducing the number of server boxes your business needs by making better use of them has clear benefits from a power point of view and essential for any green strategy.

IT managers and CIOs no longer wish to see themselves as a cost base but would rather help use technology to help drive business gain. Would you agree?

Absolutely. Virtualisation is one of the things managers can do to turn IT into an asset for the organisation. This frees up managers’ time but also allows them to play a role in adding new business capabilities and respond quickly to business needs.

Virtualisation turns the data centre into a pool of computing resources, and gives the business a flexibility it didn’t have before. It’s effectively a move to utility computing for the enterprise.

Overall, virtualisation makes IT more efficient. It reduces data loss or downtime and gives managers the tools they need – often a single console – to make operational decisions depending on their needs at the time.

Do you see many Irish companies making the shift to server virtualisation in the near future?

Around 18pc of servers in Ireland today are virtualised, which would be slightly below the European average.

We are seeing a gradual uptake in virtualisation among small and medium-sized businesses, particularly in the mid-market segment.

We believe that virtualisation is not just the preserve of the large organisation, it has many benefits that can be accrued by organisations of all sizes.

Interviewed by John Kennedy

Photo: Ronan Geraghty, Server Business Group Lead with Microsoft Ireland

Editor John Kennedy is an award-winning technology journalist.

editorial@siliconrepublic.com