​1 in 5 ANZ businesses continue to run on Windows Server 2003: Dell

A study by Dell has uncovered that 20 percent of Australian and New Zealand businesses are still running Windows Server 2003 or older.

When Microsoft officially ends its support for Windows Server 2003 on July 14, 20 percent of Australian and New Zealand (ANZ) businesses will still be running Windows Server 2003 or older, according to a new study from Dell, conducted by analyst firm Telsyte.

Dean Gardiner, Dell datacentre and cloud practice lead, told ZDNet it is not surprising that there are is a significant number of businesses -- big and small -- running Windows Server 2003 or older.

"Customers are in a position where a lot of them are going to be living with Windows Server 2003, without Microsoft support, and that places them into some level of risk around security compliance, auditing, and just around being able to support their environments," he said.

The study revealed that 40 percent of businesses have not upgraded due to application support requirements, and 29 percent because they believe it is too expensive to do so.

"Roughly 70 percent of organisations have done the work, and have looked at their existing environments and understand how big of a problem it is. I don't think it's an issue of just not having ownership or not being proactive. I think they have done the work and planning, but have understood what a challenge it is," he said.

Meanwhile, 23 percent of businesses admitted that they have no reason to upgrade, the report said.

Gardiner suggested two reasons behind this. The first is that organisations have already developed systems and a strategy that make Server 2003 obsolete, so they have no reason to upgrade. The second is because they believe it holds non-critical information.

The study showed that one in 10 do not believe there are security risks in running outdated and unsupported server technology. This is reflective of the 27 percent of IT managers who do not believe they are liable for the lack of compliance once support ends for Windows Server 2003, despite the fact that half continue to host sensitive information on these servers.

However, Gardiner warned that hosting any information in an old environment brings risks.

"It's a huge issue to have any [Windows Server] 2003 in your environment, whether it's a critical workload or not, because there are compliance and auditing issues. A large number of customers that run Windows Server 2003 are going to be targets for hackers," he said.

Seventy percent of those surveyed said they intend to upgrade within the next 12 months, but only 77 percent intend to upgrade to the existing latest version of Windows Server 2012. Of those looking to upgrade to Windows Server 2012, 85 percent agreed that it presents an opportunity for a hardware refresh, and 55 percent expect to conduct a significant overhaul of their systems.

Gardiner added that those choosing to retain old versions of technology will be left with more than one issue.

"When Microsoft release Server 2016 at the end of year, customers that maintain old versions of technology will have to deal with four generations of technology, and that is really going to drag down the ability to move to modern applications and platforms; it bogs down their internal operation teams," he said.