Learning from Cloud: What does a server upgrade mean for your organization?

Customers often ask why it’s so important to migrate to the more recent versions of Windows Server.  Today we mark exactly one year remaining until the end of support for Windows Server 2003, which puts some urgency behind that question for a lot of organizations.  So what’s the upside to migrating off Windows Server 2003?  Basically, moving to a modern platform gives you access to the opportunity to change how you approach fundamental problems in the on-premises datacenter. 


Paul Smith is a great example of how IT can evolve to support changing business needs:


Virtualization and cloud are the big examples of how a modern infrastructure gives you great agility.  But there are other areas where the impact of a server upgrade can be just as significant.  Let’s look at two important examples: disaster recovery and identity management.

Disaster Recovery

Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center (DHMC) integrates high-quality patient care, advanced medical education, and research to provide a full spectrum of healthcare to the citizens of New Hampshire and Vermont. DHMC includes New Hampshire’s only Level 1 trauma center and its only air ambulance service. That means that the hospital has to have its underlying datacenter infrastructure available at all times.

“Downtime of many of our computer systems seriously affects patient care and profitability,” says Robert McShinsky, Senior Systems Engineer at DHMC. “With some applications, such as those used during surgery, lives could be at stake. Or if we couldn’t access key systems, we would have to turn away radiology patients needing treatment. Although we’re in a rural location, we’re not the only choice that people have, so we want to deliver exceptional customer service all the time.”

DHMC had already achieved significant cost reduction and increased resilience from use of the virtualization technology in Windows Server 2008 R2 and Windows Server 2012.  But disaster recovery remained a major concern.  The DHMC IT staff found its disaster recovery needs were best met by the newest version of Hyper-V Replica and the Windows Azure Hyper-V Recovery Manager technology.

Hyper-V Replica has been enhanced in Windows Server 2012 R2 to support a third replication site, to replicate hundreds of virtual machines at a time, and to support replication frequencies down to 30 seconds, which helps DHMC achieve nearly real-time replication at a much lower cost than fully synchronous replication solutions. Live Migration compression, another Windows Server 2012 R2 feature, helps speed the process by greatly accelerating the transfer of virtual machines between host servers. 

Having a reliable DR solution is critical to the medical center’s mission as a healthcare provider as well as to its profitability. “Without many of our IT systems, we simply can’t see patients,” McShinsky says. “By using Windows Server 2012 R2, we can get our entire virtual environment back online in one hour in the event of a disaster, drastically reducing downtime for applications that affect patient care. This is imperative because lives could be at stake.”

Read the case study “Medical Center Gains Cost-Effective Disaster Recovery, IT Cost Savings with Upgrade” to learn more.

Identity Management

Menzies Aviation is a global provider of passenger, ramp, and cargo handling services. Through a combination of organic growth, acquisitions, and the development of niche opportunities, Menzies Aviation is now a major force in the international ground handling industry. Operating at more than 132 airports in 34 countries and supported by a global team of more than 17,000 people, Menzies Aviation serves more than 500 airline customers that handle more than 800,000 flights and 1.7 million tons of cargo annually

 “Every time we bring a new company into Menzies Aviation, we have to quickly upgrade our network and integrate new devices, systems, and data stores into our environment, while ensuring proper access control to company resources for new employees,” says Martin Gallington, Senior Vice President of IT at Menzies Aviation. “As we add employees—who need access to diverse systems and resources on the corporate network—it becomes more challenging to maintain a cohesive identity and access framework.”

One way to address these challenges is to virtualize Active Directory. However, Menzies Aviation system administrators have been wary about putting Active Directory in a virtual environment because of problems that may arise when they try to restore a domain controller from an image backup and the new image isn’t recognized by the domain controller.

Menzies Aviation decided to upgrade from Windows Server 2003 to Windows Server 2012 to take advantage of the advances in Active Directory. When Windows Server 2012 is fully deployed, Menzies Aviation can explore the benefits of moving Active Directory into a virtualized environment to quickly clone virtual domain controllers. This would significantly reduce the time it takes to integrate new businesses into the corporate network, minimizing service disruption.

In addition, with Dynamic Access Control and Active Directory in Windows Server 2012, Menzies Aviation can centrally manage access to information across the enterprise independently from the structure of its file systems. This capability helps reduce the risk of security breaches, even as the company acquires new employees, adds more computers, and accumulates more data.

Read the case study to learn more about the other benefits that Menzies Aviation is receiving after migrating from Windows Server 2003.

Visit the Windows Server 2003 end of support page on our website to explore your options. 

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