Windows 2003 remote Server

We have an old ERP solution that only runs on a 32-bit server. Currently it is running on an old local Windows Server 2003 R2 with Service Pack 2.

I believe Windows Server 2008 was the last "server" product that Microsoft released that was available as 32-bit. As a test, I built a new server VM running 2008 but my ERP solution didn't like it at all. So I deleted the VM. (It was still 32-bit so other than the fact that 2003 is EOL, there was really no benefit anyway)

I'm not really interested in upgrading the server that the ERP solution is running on because (1) 32-bit is limited to 4 gb ram and (2) as I mentioned, the 2008 instance was a bust.

What I AM interested in doing, is moving this VM from my local server to a VPS or a cloud hosted solution.

Web hosting companies like A2 Hosting or Rackspace, etc ... they DO offer VPS hosting but they come pre-loaded with Server 2012, which means it's 64-bit, which means my ERP solution won't run on it. And since these are not the types of hosting plans where I can BYOOS (bring your own OS), it's not a solution for me.

Is there a way for me to take my VM (prebuilt, running Windows Server 2003 and my ERP already installed) and just "upload" it somewhere?

I don't know much about Azure but from my limited research, it appears you CAN spin up your own Azure server instance and during the deployment, choose your own OS.  The problem is, since Win Server 2003 is EOL, it's not one of the OS options that you get in the drop-down list for "Choose an Operating System".

I'm even open to thinking outside the box. For example are there any companies that rent remote ESXi server space? (I'm not even sure if that's a thing). Then I could connect to it using vCenter Client, browse its datastore, upload my VM and then fire it up.

(Forgot to mention my ERP server is a VMware virtual machine).

I want this server to keep running, just not in my building. Somewhere on a remote server - vps or cloud.
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CESNetwork AdministratorCommented:
You might be able to ship the files of the machine off to a service provider and have them add the .vmx  to a VMWare host somewhere.

That's a really specific question that needs to be asked to each provider.

Aside from Azure and AWS, I can also think of and RackSpace.  Maybe worth giving them a call and seeing what their options are.
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
Easy find a Hosting Provider, which hosts VMware vSphere - e.g. VMware Cloud Provider.

This is easy Oracle Ravello! -

You can convert this server, using VMware Converter and Host on ESXi, VMware vSphere.

or you can Export the current VM, and Import into a new ESXi/VMware vSphere at AWS.

see here

Your biggest issue will be that as Microsoft does not support Windows 2003 anymore, VMware do not support Windows 2003 on VMware vSphere, however it does work!

In the future you may want to look at your ERP solution.

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Rackspace does ,but my concern is since it's in the cloud and it's W2K3 ,you open yourself to security holes that may well never be patched.

You can try this hack .I've tried it and it does work,but use at your own risk.
It makes your OS look like XP POS and it downloads the most current security patches until 2019.

To apply the hack, create a text file with a .reg extension and the contents below:

    Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00
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How many users on the 2003?
If you could live with it on a peer network you can use a 32 bit version of windows 10 and see if it works as an OS.
ecarboneAuthor Commented:
The problem I have with these hosting companies is, as soon as I tell them it is Server 2003 they say no. I think it's because these hosting companies are responsible for the OS licensing, and since Server 2003 is EOL, they can't offer it. At least this is what two hosting companies have told me so far. (I made it clear to them that I am not looking for an empty server to log into and install my EPR software. I explained what I am looking for and so far they have all said no (including Rackspace))

The Ravello and AWS solutions look interesting, but I'll need to dig deeper into these and see if they will let me upload my VM and turn it on. I know 2003 Server works on VMware because that's what I'm running it on every day, and there has never been an issue.

Good point about the security issues. I'd have to consider that if and when I find a solution. And the registry hack may come in handy. Running the ERP on a Windows 10 vm (32 bit) won't work because if I deploy this to the cloud, then I'll also have to make it a terminal server. In other words, I would need the ability for 2 or 3 people to log into it and log in. (It would not work as a client-server configuration. The connection would be too slow. Better to have the users remote into the server, get their own TS desktop and then fire up the ERP from there)

At the end of the day I am looking for an unmanaged solution. I don't want the hosting company to provide the OS, or patch my server or limit what I can do. I just want a place to upload my VM and turn it on.

Thanks everyone for the info but I want to keep this thread open a little longer.
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
The Ravello and AWS solutions look interesting, but I'll need to dig deeper into these and see if they will let me upload my VM and turn it on. I know 2003 Server works on VMware because that's what I'm running it on every day, and there has never been an issue.

It will work, because you control the Host ESXi Server! You can host what you want! including old virtual machines!
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