How we retired Windows 2003, one site at a time

Ray PenalosaWe all knew it was coming. As of July 14, 2015 Windows Server 2003 support is ending and Microsoft will stop supporting the platform. That doesn’t mean that Windows 2003 will not run – it means that any security holes, vulnerabilities, or exploits found on the platform will no longer be patched or fixed by Microsoft.

I know that change is always difficult, and no one likes going through the ordeal of moving a site and testing it. At DiscountASP we took a proactive approach. We began planning for this two years ago and we invested a great deal of time and care into helping our customers move to either a Windows 2008 or Windows 2012 server. The vast majority of the migrations were performed by the DiscountASP migration specialists, trained professionals with expertise in moving web site files to a new server.

We had over 60 Windows 2003/IIS 6 servers to retire, which amounted to over 6,000 sites.

DiscountASP web migration specialists
Moving done right.

Every site migration began with pulling up the site on the browser to ensure it was functioning and pointing to our web servers (and of course everyone was emailed prior to migration to let them know when it would be taking place). Then file migration from one server to another took anywhere from 40 minutes to well over an hour depending on the size and number of files. Once transfer to the new server was complete, we viewed and tested the site on the new server.  If any code modifications or account configuration needed to be set, we took care of that, then emailed the site owner letting them know that their migration was complete.

Our migration specialists took the extra step of modifying account settings, application settings and connection strings for older .NET 1.1 applications that displayed an error after migration. Because of that kind of attention to detail, the vast majority of our members weren’t even aware of the actual move, and the entire process was transparent to them.

For those who took advantage of our temporary IIS 7 and IIS 8 testing platforms, we worked closely with them to move a copy of their site to the testing environment where they were able to fully test the compatibility of their web applications. Any code modifications, server or account settings that were needed were done in the test environment.  When testing was completed we manually moved the site to the new platform.  This eliminated any possible application disruptions that could have occurred during the migration to the new platform.

This was all done manually and free of charge, one site at a time.  When everything was said and done, it took over 6,000 hours – or a full 250 days – to migrate the sites and finally retire the Windows 2003 servers. And finally, a statistic we’re very proud of: more than 99% of our customers did not experience any disruption of their websites.

DiscountASP.NET customers now have the peace of mind that their sites and web applications are being hosted on safer servers, and they also have greater server resources available to their busy sites.

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