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The role of inventory & SAM in future-proofing the business

By Peter Björkman | November 17, 2014

Unless you’ve been vacationing on Mars recently, you’ll know that Microsoft will end support for Microsoft Windows Server 2003/R2 on July 14, 2015.

Although now over 10 years old, the fact is that many servers across the organization still run this popular operating system. As such, the work (and time) involved in moving servers to a new operating system should not be underestimated. 

Essentially, there are five key points to consider:

  1. Finding all the physical and virtual servers currently running the Windows 2003/R2 operating system
  2. Determining if servers running Windows 2003/R2 are suitable to run a replacement OS (possibly with a cheap upgrade) or if they need to be retired and replaced
  3. Identifying the software installed on affected servers – are they actively in use and still critical to business as usual operations?
  4. Determining if software is compatible with chosen replacement operating system(s)
  5. Understanding the licensing impacts of moving Windows 2003/R2 operating systems and software to new platform with possible new hardware specs.

With hundreds and possibly thousands of servers across the enterprise still running Windows 2003/R2, the workload involved with the points above is considerable, but can be relieved significantly with the effective use of a Software Asset Management (SAM) platform:

Finding the servers

An effective inventory solution will quickly identify all the servers in use across the network that are running the soon-to-be-retired operating system, helping IT staff understand where they are located and who might be responsible for their management.

Understanding the physical properties of the servers

Again, a good inventory tool will report back on the memory, processor and other configuration items that are required to determine whether servers are capable of being cheaply upgraded (e.g. adding more memory) or require replacement.

Identifying the software installed on Windows 2003/R2 servers

When it comes to understanding exactly what software is installed on affected servers, you need to know accurate information about the versions and editions of applications, databases etc. Surprisingly, many inventory solutions won’t provide this. That’s where features like the Snow Software Recognition Service come into their own, provided an accurate and normalized list of software applications installed. This software can then be quickly checked for compatibility with target replacement platforms.

Understanding the licensing impacts of moving to new operating systems

As hardware, operating systems and applications evolve, so do the licensing requirements. As such, the deployment of new upgraded servers could well have implications for both operating system and application licensing – such as per processor or processing-power based licenses. Understanding the configuration of the newly deployed servers is essential to ensuring that the organization purchases the correct licenses and does not find itself with a compliance risk following the upgrade. Disruption and expense are inevitable when it comes to major operating system and application upgrades; but they are a necessary evil.

Employing an effective Software Asset Management (SAM) platform comprising comprehensive inventory and software license optimization technologies can be both a major labor-saver as well as ensure the project is delivered on-time and on-budget.

After all, Gartner states that “Poor data quality is the primary reason for 40% of IT initiatives failing to achieve their targeted benefits”. The challenge associated with Windows 2003 is not unique and will be faced by organizations time and time again.

Make sure you’re working with the best data. To learn more, book a demo with a Snow SAM expert today.

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