Cloud Startup AppZero Launches Promo To Jump-Start Windows Server 2003 Migrations

As the Windows XP migration bonanza fades, cloud startup AppZero isn't wasting any time getting its partners revved up for the next big channel opportunity: Microsoft's ending of support for Windows Server 2003.

AppZero, Andover, Mass., launched a promotion Tuesday in which customers can get five server licenses for $1,500, along with the rights to migrate as many apps as they want onto the servers.

In an interview, AppZero President and CEO Greg O'Connor told CRN the goal is to make it as easy as possible for enterprises to move their apps off Windows Server 2003 and onto Windows Server 2012 and Microsoft's Azure cloud.

AppZero makes it possible to move around Windows Server apps and everything connected to them by putting them into its "virtual application appliance" instead of a virtual machine. This means it can work with any kind of hypervisor or cloud, instead to being tied to a specific vendor or technology.

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AppZero can migrate 32-bit apps running on Windows Server 2003 to the 64-bit Windows Server 2012, skipping Windows Server 2008 entirely. The startup says this means enterprise apps can be moved between clouds faster and without making any changes to the app.

According to industry estimates, there are anywhere between 10 million and 22 million servers still running Windows Server 2003. O'Connor said based on what AppZero staff is seeing, most Fortune 500 firms currently have between 2,000 and 10,000 machines running Windows Server 2003.

Once Microsoft stops issuing security patches, enterprises still using Windows Server 2003 could find themselves in a world of hurt from a security standpoint, according to O'Connor.

In 2013, Microsoft issued 37 critical updates for Windows Server 2003, and O'Connor said this suggests the risks of running it after the support deadline will be significant. Enterprises with regulatory compliance requirements could face problems if they continue using Windows Server 2003, he said.

Microsoft offered extended support for Windows XP and that will presumably be an option for enterprise customers, albeit an expensive one, O'Connor said.

AppZero primarily sells through the channel, and many of its partners are also Microsoft partners.

Infront Consulting Group, a Toronto-based systems integrator and AppZero partner specializing in virtualization, data center services and private clouds, has been working to identify pockets of Windows Server 2003 usage inside customers' organizations.

Rory McCaw, CEO of Infront Consulting Group, told CRN AppZero is an easy and economical way to handle the task of migrating enterprise apps to Windows Server 2012 or Azure. Once that's done, McCaw said, enterprises will be able to meet regulatory compliance requirements.