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Windows Server 2012 /R2 – End of Support is nearly here!

Overview – what’s happening?

Windows Server 2012 Operating System has been out now for over 10 years, and its R2 version coming close to that 10 year period. If you’re still running these Operating Systems for your workloads, you need to be aware that on October 10th 2023 Microsoft will end support for this OS. This follows the end of support date for SQL 2012, which was July 12th 2022.

Once the end of support date has passed, you will no longer receive security updates, standard updates, bug fixes or technical support. Any servers running this OS will be severely impacted in regards to security posture and your ability to resolve complex issues.

Extended Security Updates

Since the release of Server 2012 R2, Microsoft have released three main Server OS versions including the more recent Server 2022 which was released towards the end of 2021. Ideally you will be running a newer version
of the OS already but if that’s not the case, don’t worry Microsoft have a solution.

You can continue to protect your workloads and receive support by applying an ESU (Extended Security Update). An ESU will provide ‘Critical’ and ‘Important’ patches for your workloads for three additional years. If you have an active support contract, that can also be used for the additional three years. It’s worth noting ESUs do not include new features, non-security hotfixes, or design change requests. However, Microsoft may include non-security fixes as deemed necessary.

What are your options?

You have three main options at your disposal if you need to cover your 2012/R2 OS and ensure you still receive updates and support:

Option 1: Migrate to Azure and receive free ESU

If you migrate your workloads to Azure, or if they already  exist in Azure you will benefit from the additional three years ESU completely free of charge. This is applicable to the following services:     

  • Azure Virtual Machines
  • Azure Dedicated Host
  • Azure VMWare Solution
  • Azure Stack (Hub, Edge, HCI)

If you are already thinking of migrating to Azure this is a simple step that gives you time before deciding to upgrade the OS or move to a PaaS service which removes the management of the OS completely.

It’s also worth noting Azure Migrate, the tool used for migrating workloads to Virtual Machines now includes the ability to do an in-place upgrade during the migration process.

Option 2: Remain on-premises and upgrade the Operating System

If you do need to remain on-premises you can of course look to upgrade all of your servers to a newer OS that is going to be supported by Microsoft past October 10th 2023.

Option 3: Remain on-premises and purchase Extended Security Updates

If you wish to remain on-premises and not upgrade the OS, you will need to purchase ESUs to remain secure and supported until October 13th 2026. Purchased ESUs will continue for three years and be renewable on an
annual basis.

Eligible customers will be able to purchase ESUs that are sold in 16 core packs for the three years and are provided via volume licensing using a license key. The prices are shown below:

Year 1: 100% of full license price annually

Year 2: 100% of full license price annually

Year 3: 100% of full license price annually

If you wait for year two to buy the ESU you will need to pay for 2 years’ worth and if you wait for year three you have to pay all three years upfront.

TOP TIP: Microsoft recently announced the ability to purchase ESUs for on-premises workloads using Azure ARC. This allows you to be billed via the Azure portal on a monthly basis, instead of annual billing without the need for a key. Azure Arc also has the added benefit of surfacing your on-premises workloads in Azure where you can monitor, patch and secure your on-premise workloads via a single pane of glass. This is a great option for hybrid environments or for workloads that will soon be moving to Azure but after the EOL deadline.

Windows Server 2008 and 2008 R2

Windows Server 2008 also went out of support a few years ago and at the time many of the options above were available then. Be aware, if you did apply an ESU for Windows Server 2008 or if you migrated the server to Azure, that three years extended support will end on January 9th 2024. After this point, You will have no other way to protect you servers outside of an upgrade to a newer OS. 

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