March 22, 2023 By Mike Flaum 5 min read

Advance notice of the Windows Server 2012 and 2012 R2 End of Support so that you can take appropriate action to audit deployments and determine the scope of migration.

As we all know, enterprises are under attack from hackers. Administrators have to deploy operating systems in configurations that minimize attack vectors and apply security patches to maintain the latest code. It is a common best practice to take inventory of operating systems in order to see the status of support from Microsoft.

Software is not supported forever and it is prudent to migrate off a Windows Server version well before it goes End of Life/Support. Enterprises should minimize disruptions, whether by applying patches or migrating to a new version of Windows Server. Patches also fix identified bugs in the previous version and improve stability and performance. All of these reasons lead to one common thread: System Administrators need to keep software up to date with patches/supported versions and mitigate disruptions to production networks.

This blog post is focused on Microsoft Windows Server environments and is applicable to Windows Server 2008, 2012, 2016, 2019 and 2022. Other applications and operating systems are not mentioned; however, the IBM policy is consistent. It is prudent for customers to look at all software and determine where it is in its current lifecycle and take appropriate actions accordingly. Customers that wait for an End-of-Support announcement may be under significant pressure to migrate a large number of workloads and servers to stay on a supported version of code.

IBM Cloud products End-of-Life Policy

IBM lifecycle policy is designed to support customers as they deploy hardware and software. The goal is to provide resources that can be supported through new features/functionality, bug fixes and security patches as available through the respective vendors. IBM cannot support software that is not supported by the supplying vendor. We notify customers when software will no longer be supported by the vendor and IBM, in parallel, follows their policy.

IBM’s lifecycle policy provides guidelines for all IBM Cloud portfolio products (compute, storage, software, bandwidth and so on) slated for End of Marketing (EOM) or End of Support (EOS). Products slated for EOS will be announced 90 days before EOS date using the IBM Cloud product lifecycle site in the documentation for IBM Cloud. See this page for more details.

The IBM Cloud product lifecycle consists of four key dates:

  • General Availability: The effective date a product is available to users (when version and release are published on the lifecycle website).
  • End of Marketing: The effective date the product ceases to be active on the standard price list and can no longer be ordered or purchased.
  • End-of-Support Announcement: The date IBM Cloud announces the end of support for a product currently offered—normally 90 days before the actual EOS date.
  • End of Support: The last date IBM Cloud will deliver standard support, imaging or reload services for a given version or release of a product.

Microsoft Windows Server

Microsoft Windows Server has a large industry and customer market share, and we want to provide an additional notification to our customers that are that running Windows Server 2012 and 2012 R2 that it will go End of Support from Microsoft on October 10, 2023.

IBM will announce End of Support 90 days prior to that on July 10, 2023, but given the large number of deployments that run this software and that it can take testing to verify how applications and configurations could run on a new version of Windows Server, we thought it would be prudent to remind customers of the need to audit their deployments and migrate to a newer version of Windows Server well in advance. While IBM will make this announcement for IBM Cloud, this End of Support would also carry over to on-premises deployments since the Windows Server Lifecycle is determined by Microsoft. This is not just an IBM Cloud situation.

IBM publishes the lifecycle for both Classic and VPC Cloud. While these postings have existed for years, customers may not be aware of the impending End of Support of Windows Server 2012 and 2102 R2.  So in the spirit of security, support, migration and transition, we thought it makes sense to give customers an advance notice of the Windows Server 2012 and 2012 R2 End of Support so they can take appropriate action to audit their deployments to determine the scope of their migration.

When to deploy new versions of Windows Server

Every product or service has a lifecycle, including Microsoft Server. Internally, Microsoft creates, designs, develops and tests everything. Once these features, product, and services are developed enough, a preview release is made available for users to test and assess. After these tests succeed, the feature, product or service is released and becomes generally available.

Over time, as more product releases take place, older products and services can no longer be supported and they reach the phase of End of Support (EOS). In end of support, products or services will stop receiving updates and assisted support.

It is our recommendation that customers plan a year in advance of End of Support for Microsoft dates to give system administrators ample time to either upgrade or migrate workloads to a supported version of code. Some enterprise customers have hundreds to thousands of servers, and planning, testing, staging and implementing to a supported OS will probably take longer than the IBM 90-day notification.

We recommend that customers backup their deployments and utilize an infrastructure and patch management tool to orchestrate the migration to a new virtual server/machine running the new version of Windows Server. Customers should always verify the migration process with test configurations and data to ensure that a migration with production configurations and data will run smoothly.

Microsoft’s End-of-Life policy

Once a Microsoft product reaches the End of Support or a service retires, there will be no new security updates, non-security updates or assisted support. Customers are encouraged to migrate to the latest version of the product or service.

Microsoft  Cloud Product Lifecycle consists of the following:

  • Start Date: Date product is available to users.
  • Mainstream End Date: Date the product ceases to receive enhancements or new features. 
  • Extended End Date: After this date, these products will no longer receive security updates, non-security updates, bug fixes, technical support or online technical content updates.

The following are important dates for different versions of Windows Server:

Based on the above information, all customers running Windows Server 2008 and 2012, 2012 R2 should migrate to Windows Server 2019 or later to give sufficient lifecycle. Windows Server 2016 is now past the Mainstream End Date and will not receive product enhancements—only bug fixes and security updates. So it would make sense to migrate to Windows Server 2019 or later.

General Microsoft Lifecycle Policy

Windows Server Lifecycle Policy

Windows Server End of Support

Summary

System Administrators need to keep software up to date to ensure the security and data integrity of their deployments. The first step a customer should do is to perform an audit of their deployments and plan on migrating off impending obsolete and unsupported software. We urge customers with self-managed environments to performs these audits on a consistent basis so they have sufficient time remaining in the software lifecycle to create a stable and secure deployments. If your software—like Windows Server 2012/2012 R2—is currently supported but going End of Support in October of 2023, performing the migration assessment as soon a possible to ensure a smooth transition is in your best interest in securing your valuable corporate resources.

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