Windows Server 2003 Migration Resources

Microsoft will end support for Windows Server 2003/R2 on July 14, 2015.

Now is the time to migrate.

Here are some links and resources to help as you prepare for your Windows Server 2003 migration. Be sure to bookmark this page to avoid missing new resources as they are added.

Windows Server 2003 migration

– Understand what end of support means, directly from Microsoft, via Custom Systems Corporation.

Great resources from our own blog:

Upgrading Windows Server 2003 Active Directory

This is a basic guide to help walk you through the upgrade of  Server 2003 Active Directory to Server 2012 R2.

Migrating from Windows Server 2003: 64-bit vs. 32-bit

This this post, we’ll explain  one of the key points involved in moving off the Windows 2003 platform – moving from 32-bit computing to 64-bit.

Windows Server 2003 Migration: Planning Considerations

Where does your organization fall today, in planning the migration process from Windows Server 2003.

Windows Server 2003 Migration: Tasks Part 1 – Inventory

Just because a resource is not a Windows Server 2003, it does not mean it is exempt from the effects of the migration. In this first task, review your current inventory to prepare for server migration.

Windows Server 2003 Migration: Tasks Part 2 – Planning

Now that we have our inventory, it is time to plan our Windows Server 2003 migration.

Windows Server 2003 Migration: Tasks Part 3 – Build and Test

Now we need to build what we’ve designed.

Windows Server 2003 Migration: Tasks Part 4 – Implementation

We documented our inventory, created a plan, allocated the resources, procured the budget, and practiced our migration in a development environment. Now we are at the point where we need to implement our design in production.


Be sure to bookmark the Windows Server 2003 Countdown Clock on our site. You’ll also find great resources directly from Microsoft here. The network services professionals at Custom Systems are trained to perform the tasks outlined in our blogs, necessary for your organization to migrate from Windows Server 2003. You can reach our sales team by calling us at 800.539.3523 or by email.  Please feel free to leave any questions or comments below.

Windows Server 2003 Migration: Tasks Part 1 – Inventory

Know your environment. The very first task you need to do in a Windows Server 2003 migration is to update your inventory on your infrastructure. This does not mean only your Windows server 2003, this means your entire infrastructure. Why? Because you need to know exactly what you have, if there are any pitfalls, and if there are any synergies you can take advantage of. Just because a resource is not a Windows Server 2003, it does not mean it is exempt from the effects of the migration. In fact, you may need to update other resources in order to function with the results of the migration. You need to account for the following:

  • The quantity of Windows Server 2003 you have and their functions. How many are domain controllers? How many are just member servers?
  • The resources that are not Windows Server 2003.
  • Of the documented resources, the quantity of them still in use. You would be surprised how many organizations have orphaned servers and resources still in their environment because no one knew it was safe to remove them.
  • The hardware those resources reside on. Is the hardware still viable for today’s workloads? Is the hardware worth supporting?
  • The software/applications residing on resources. We need to know who owns it, is it still used, the resources required to install and operate the software, and if the software can be migrated.
  • The business units who use the resources. Talk to the people to find out if they actually still need the resources. Find out if they have any projects or plans to upgrade their applications that will facilitate the migration from Windows Server 2003.
  • The other resources or clients that need to communicate with the Windows Server 2003. For example, do you have a database or share on Windows Server 2003 that other servers are accessing?
  • The servers housing applications that can’t be migrated. Legacy software is one of the primary reasons we still have older servers with older operating systems. The software is still in use or is legally needed for archival purposes. There may be no upgrade path for the legacy system.
  • The people resources available. You will need to know if you have the staff with the needed experience and knowledge, the subject matter experts on the software applications, and the manpower-time needed for the project.

I won’t go into detail here on how to perform your inventory of your infrastructure. Various third-party vendors have products (inventory management systems) to help you. There are also tools on the Internet available to help with the task. Microsoft provides the Assessment and Planning Toolkit.

Once you have your inventory, you can start working on your plan. With the inventory and knowledge of the resources, you have the basis needed to determine priorities, tasks, resource assignment, scheduling and more. Now, we can move onto the planning: See our blog “Windows Server 2003 Migration: Tasks Part 2 – Planning” (available soon).

As always, I welcome your comments or questions. Please feel free to leave them below or email me directly.




Sr. Network Consultant




©2015 Custom Systems Corporation

Migrating from Windows Server 2003: 64-bit vs. 32-bit

Windows Server 2003 End of Life

On July 14, 2015, Windows Server 2003 Microsoft support will end. Meaning, after that date, there will be no more security fixes, hot-fixes, patches, or any other type of development for Server 2003 from Microsoft. It also means that if you have an issue and call in for Microsoft support, they will no longer open a support case for you. To find out the information from the source and to get ideas on how to move forward, click here. Over the next few months, we will be presenting blogs with information on migrating from Windows Server 2003. In this blog I am going to discuss a topic that is a major factor in migration.

Moving from 32-bit to 64-bit

One of the key points involved in moving off the Windows 2003 platform is going from 32-bit computing to 64-bit. 32-bit and 64-bit computing refer to a change in the instruction set for processors (CPUs) and how processors handle memory. Bits (binary digit) refer to the smallest units of computer data (a value of 1 or 0). As the number of bits in a computational value increase, the amount of data the value can hold increases. A 64-bit value exponentially holds a greater amount of data than a 32-bit. This difference is exhibited the most in physical memory addressing. The key differences of 64-bit computing over 32-bit computing is more memory. Memory limits in 32-bit Windows Operating Systems (OS) depended on the version in use and the 32-bit address space. Windows Server 2003 Standard had a limit of 4GB of memory, while Datacenter and Enterprise had a 64GB limit. In a 64-bit world, the Windows OS version still controls memory limits, but the 64-bit address bar has been raised. Windows Server 2012 Standard and above have a memory limit of 4TB. In fact, hardware is actually the primary limiting factor over software.

There is a Windows Server 2003 64-bit edition, but the adoption rate of that version was extremely low. The vast majority of Windows 2003 Server implementations were 32-bit. This happened for a number of reasons. The 64-bit server product was bleeding edge when it was introduced. Until Windows Server 2008, development for 64-bit products was not mainstream. Few software vendors factored in 64-bit compatibility in their code until Windows Server 2008. On the consumer side, 32-bit was the comfortable norm and 64-bit was factored in only when there were obvious gains. Requirements and advantages in Exchange and SQL were some of the primary factors for using the 64-bit version of 2003 over the 32-bit version. The number of users you could connect to one server through terminal services was greatly increased, but then you had to make sure that you were using software that worked in 64-bit terminal services.

It’s all about compatibility

So, what does all this mean in relation to migrating off Windows Server 2003? Compatibility. Will the software we have running in Windows Server 2003 work in 64-bit 2008 or 2012 servers? Will we have software drivers available on 64-bit that are as comprehensive as the ones we used in 32-bit systems? 64-bit servers are backward compatible and will run 32-bit applications, but not all 32-bit applications are 64-bit compatible. Applications with high resource demands probably moved towards 64-bit computing a while ago to take advantage of the increase in memory and processing power. However, we still have the issue of legacy software. We may only have licenses for a certain version of an application. We may need to pay for licensing of a later version. Or the licensing was based on the server OS. For instance, our 2003 Terminal Server CALs will not work with 2008 or 2012. We will need new licenses for that. What if there is no upgrade for that legacy system that will only work on a 32-bit system? All software issues will need to be researched and a plan developed to move forward.
Look for upcoming blogs, where we will discuss the research and testing needed, peripheral drivers (printers, scanners, etc.), SQL and Exchange requirements, backup solutions and more. Stay tuned and as always, please feel free to post your questions or comments below. You can also email me directly.





Sr. Network Consultant




©2015 Custom Systems Corporation