In less than a year, many SMBs are going to be asking themselves the following question: “Why did we wait so long to upgrade?” Of course, some SMB owners still aren’t aware what’s going to happen with the Microsoft products they’re using to operate their businesses. While many of these SMBs won’t see the true impact of not upgrading or migrating Microsoft products until breaches occur, there’s still enough time for SMBs to assess the systems they’re using to determine the best option.

What EOL means for your organization

Basically, after January 14, 2020, Microsoft is no longer sending security updates to several of its software products, including Windows Server 2008, Windows SBS 2011, SQL Server 2008, Exchange 2010 and Windows 7. If your organization is currently using any of the solutions just mentioned, begin developing your migration plan today — otherwise, if you wait too long, your business is going to face support gaps, which exposes your organization to cyber attacks. As far as migration options, there are two main choices: upgrade on-premises software or move to the cloud.

Upgrade your on-premises software

Sometimes organizations want to keep their servers on-premises for a variety of reasons — whether they’re legitimate or not — including security, control, and regulations. If this sounds like your business, then upgrading your on-premises software is the best route for you to take this year. (Actually, it’s the only option, unless, of course, you decide opening your business to security vulnerabilities is the better option.) The process of upgrading your on-premises solution is simple.

For example, take Windows Server 2008 or Windows Server 2008 R2. Unless you’re willing to migrate to Azure by rehosting your current workloads, upgrading to Windows Server 2012/2012 R2 is your only option. Afterward, you’ll be able to upgrade to Windows Server 2016. (Unfortunately, you cannot upgrade from Windows Server 2008 R2 to Windows Server 2016 or later.) If the double upgrade seems likes too much work, going with Microsoft’s “lift and shift” approach is the way to go.

Migrate to Azure for free security updates and more

It isn’t a secret Microsoft is pushing Azure, the tech giant’s cloud computing service. On its website, Microsoft lists numerous benefits for businesses migrating to Azure, including security updates and no-charge upgrades. For Microsoft, there are three reasons businesses should migrate their software products to Azure, including innovation, cost savings, and security and compliance. Migrating your workloads to the cloud is a better option for your business if you’re not so concerned with the issues noted earlier and expect to adopt additional cloud services down the road — everything is seamless (especially when working with IT professionals who’ve completed cloud migrations countless times).

Begin planning for EOL today before it’s too late. The truth is this: Many businesses are going to wait until the very last minute to upgrade or migrate their existing products. If you continue to push off the inevitable, the more likely your business is going to undergo support gaps, which is what you want to avoid at all costs. Ignoring the need to upgrade or migrate your software is only going to adversely impact the overall security of your business in the long run. Before making any decision, sit down with an IT provider near you to determine the best course of action for your small business.

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