Microsoft has announced that on January 14, 2020, support for Windows Server 2008 and 2008 R2 will end. The end of support for SQL servers running 2008 and 2008 R2 is July 9, 2019. With approximately 50% of all servers in all industries currently running Windows 2008 or 2008 R2, and the 2008 servers representing the last of the 32-bit operating systems, it truly is an end of an era. What Does End of Support Actually Mean? In general, it means the end of regular security updates. Currently, when Microsoft rolls out a new version of its operating system, it provides monthly security updates for ten years. After that time, the company offers some additional extended updates at additional fees, but highly recommends that users migrate to a newer version. For additional information, check out a complete list of Microsoft’s end of support product lifecycle dates here. How Does an Affected Healthcare Practice or Healthcare Enterprise Prepare for the End of Support? The end of support for the 2008 servers is not a surprise and should be part of an overall plan for hardware lifecycle management. While Microsoft recommends a three-step approach to readiness, we’ve provided additional, healthcare specific considerations as well: Assess – Microsoft recommends identifying and taking inventory of your apps and server roles running on Windows Server 2008 and 2008 R2. You should then analyze each workload to determine the best path, whether it’s migrating to Azure or upgrading on-premises.To help with overall data management, Harmony Healthcare IT developed an inventory spreadsheet to assist healthcare organizations in capturing critical legacy system details like: system name, vendor, database size, server location, operating system, image size/count and patient count. To access this complimentary tool, click here. Migrate – Microsoft encourages making the move to migrate your virtual machines to Azure or upgrade to the latest version of Windows Server. Keep in mind that some legacy applications do not have an option to run on a newer system. These applications could jeopardize the security of the network and other systems and will need another option instead of migration. In short, only migrate active applications in which it makes sense to do so. Fine Tune – Use this opportunity to look for ways to optimize costs, manage resources, and strengthen security and compliance across hybrid workloads. One such way is through data management and the archiving of legacy records.As you begin to think through the transition, consider how to handle PHI that will not migrate into the go-forward system. Archiving data with HealthData Archiver® is not only a cost-effective solution, but also provides a robust and secure data management system. The platform also streamlines workflow, delivering Single Sign-On access to historical patient or employee records for legal and compliance officers, HIM professionals, clinicians, revenue cycle managers, business office administrators, IT staff and HR resources.The web-based solution, with its release of information workflows, integrated clinical views, transaction posting, and eDiscovery capabilities provides a significant return on investment for healthcare delivery organizations that are decommissioning legacy systems.The solution consolidates legacy data stores, reduces out-of-production system maintenance costs, mitigates technical risk, complies with record retention mandates and offers both interoperability and data analytics capabilities. As your organization reviews its efforts to be ready for the end of support for Microsoft’s server 2008 and 2008 R2, you may also be like 80% of organizations that are adopting a cloud-first strategy. Microsoft notes that organizations that adopt modern cloud, data and AI technologies generally achieve a 2X operating margin of those who don’t. As we look ahead to the possibility of the GDPR requirements extending beyond Europe into other countries, it makes sense to stay ahead of the compliance curve. While not upgrading doesn’t automatically make healthcare organizations non-compliant with HIPAA, it does increase risk. The clock is ticking. Soon Windows 2008 will be unprotected. Need a hand? Contact us.