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SBS2003 Installation will it be supported with downloads for another year / any issues anyone can report.

Posted on 2013-01-15
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Last Modified: 2013-01-18
Due to a nightmare beyond my control (thanks HP) a server was shipped with SBS2003 missing the SBS2008 software back in 2009. The server is now running out of drive space so we're removing the smaller drives and upgrading to larger, because of the OS fiasco makes sense to install the new drives and build up the server again for another year which at that time makes ROI 5 years (one goal accomplished) and we'll then review the technology available. As well probably better with SBS2011 no longer being supported...seems like the industry is going through a change between in-house and cloud so review again in mid 2014.  

Question, is there anything to worry about with SBS2003 installations 9 years after the OS has been out? I have clients still running SBS2003 and server 2003 and haven't had any problems I don't expect this to be any different however because the option to "not" go to SBS2008 for the next year has been decided for us and we're trying to fully understand if there are any SBS2003 problems that may come about due to the age of the OS.
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Question by:WORKS2011
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david_IPSG earned 668 total points
ID: 38779363
I do not recommend running O/S's past the end of life when Microsoft stops supporting and writing patches. I still have some client that are running Server 2000 and 2003 and refuse to upgrade until they fail. I would say upgrade but with the retirement of SBS, it will probably take you a year to deiced on what direction your going to move. So it looks like your going to get that last year from the server anyway. Keep the OS patched and up to date with Security and you should be fine.

There was another post in regards to continuing the use of SBS2003
http://www.experts-exchange.com/OS/Microsoft_Operating_Systems/Server/SBS_Small_Business_Server/Q_27609864.html
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Assisted Solution

by:Tony Giangreco
Tony Giangreco earned 668 total points
ID: 38779370
I have four clients running SBS203 with three to 45 users. Thay have all been upgraded for more drive space and more memory. At this time, thay are all running properly.

There are many new featured in the new versions of SBS 2008/2012 that are handy, but none are show stoppers for my client. My viewpoint is if they are running smooth and daon;t run into a technical roadblocks, they we are ok. If they decice they want new functionality that is not available wit the 2003 platform, then we discuss upgrades.

Hope this helps!
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Assisted Solution

by:Cliff Galiher
Cliff Galiher earned 664 total points
ID: 38780397
I do have a few concerns. First the big one: Security.

In a year, SBS 2003 will be well out of the MS extended support window. All you have to do is look at the zero-day Java exploit last week to see how hard it is to keep systems secure when products are still *in* support. SBS is exposed to the internet via Exchange and IIS (or if it isn't, there is no point of running SBS) so not getting security updates is a HUGE factor.

So you really have to ask yourself two questions.

1) When do you want SBS 2003 to be replaced. Mid-2014, in my opinion, is *WAY* too late. Your new system should be in place *by* the end of 2013.

...which then asks the next question...

2) Is it worth the effort of doing a greenfield rebuild (no migration, manually copying data, etc) for a system that will ultimately be used for 7 to 8 months max. Only you and your client/company can decide if such labor costs can be justified. Normally I'd say not, but that is just me.

So that is the *big* concern. Then there is the smaller stuff. Application compatibility. 2003 is old. Newer apps, if you need to buy them, like AV, may not support 2003 anymore. After all, if MS is killing off support, why should an AV vendor write software for it. Drivers are another one...especially with a server that is newer than the OS by 5 years. Either the hardware is old enough to still have 2003 drivers...that never get updated...or new enough that there aren't 2003 drivers. Rarely both. Similar concerns to the security updates above. If you can't upgrade the drivers to fix existing bugs, how much inconvenience will that cause.

Yes there are other 2003 servers still running out there. But I can also point to a new question being asked in the MS forums or here on EE on a *daily* basis of someone who says "my server crashed and when I try to restore my backup on new hardware it freezes" or similar issues. They were running 2003 on hardware that was out of warranty, replacement parts are no longer available, and trying to restore on different hardware introduces enough incompatibilities that the restores don't work. Very painful for the person asking the question, but even more painful for the companies that pay top dollar for data recovery scenarios because their invaluable data was not part of a properly planned and tested DR scenario.

So that is what it all boils down to. Disaster Recovery. Hardware failure is a form of disaster. So is a rampant virus infection, so EOL of an OS does matter in DR planning. As does the warranty of the server.

I know there will be people that ride 2003 into the dirt. That doesn't make it a good business practice or technical practice. I cannot personally fathom a circumstance where I'd recommend *loading* 2003 right now, and only a few where I can even support holding off on an upgrade.

However, each situation is truly unique, so while I can't personally invent a theoretical situation where I'd support reloading 2003, I suppose someone could find such a scenario and surprise me.

Ultimately you are the boots on the ground and you know the situation better than any expert here. But tread with caution. Hopefully this advice can provide guidance. If it were me, given the information provided, I wouldn't bother with a reload. I'd take this as an opportunity to fix a mistake and provide a better more future-proof solution. It is easy to be penny-wise and pound-foolish, but sometimes we have to take the long view for our clients as they aren't technical in nature and don't have the ability to do so themselves. It is our responsibility as trusted consultants to steer them in the right direction. I see this as one of those times.

Good luck,

-Cliff
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LVL 17

Author Closing Comment

by:WORKS2011
ID: 38795474
thanks guys, decided to go with a new SBS2011 server. Appreciate the feedback.
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