Dell Technologies: End Of Windows Server 2008 Support Means Channel Opportunities

Because businesses will have to upgrade their Windows Server 2008 operating system, channel partners can use the opportunity to get in extra face time with customers and help them consider upgrading servers at the same time.


Microsoft's pending end of support for the Windows Server 2008 operating system, along with other upcoming product end-of-life events, is a good opportunity for solution providers to not only prod customers into doing what's necessary to continue protecting their hardware but also look at possible hardware upgrades as well.

That's the word from Samir Ahmad, Microsoft channel brand manager at Dell Technologies, who used his presentation at this week's XChange conference in Denver to make sure solution providers have prepared their clients for the end of extended support for Windows Server 2008 and Windows Server 2008 R2, scheduled for January 14 of next year.

Partners should also be looking ahead to January of 2023, when extended support is scheduled to end for Windows Server 2012 and 2012 R2, Ahmad said.

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Extended support for both Microsoft Exchange Server 2010 and Windows 7 is also scheduled to end January 14, 2020, while extended support for Office 2010 and SharePoint 2010 is scheduled to end October 13, 2020, he said.

Ahmad, citing Gartner studies, said the average server age in 2015 was 5.6 years, while that average jumped to 7.3 years by 2017 as customers have been putting off buying new servers.

"If you have been putting off upgrading the operating system, this is a great opportunity to upgrade the servers," he said.

Solution providers should ensure clients' servers get updated in order to make sure they have the latest security and compliance capabilities, Ahmad said. "With Windows Server 2008, there is compliance risk," he said.

There are three key capabilities that make upgrading from Windows Server 2008 to Windows Server 2019 an important move, Ahmad said.

The first is enhanced security, including the ability to manage privileged identities, better secure the operating system itself, and the ability to shield virtual machines from security issues, he said.

The second is the ability to do more with hybrid data center platforms, which allow customers to better work across on-premises and cloud environments for such uses cases as IoT, he said.

The third is improved hyper-convergence, Ahmed said. While Windows Server 2008 introduced Hyper-V virtualization, Windows Server 2016 introduced Storage Spaces Direct and Windows Server 2019 is adding software-defined networking, he said.

Ahmad also said Dell Technologies is trying to encourage channel partners to work with the OEM license version of Windows Server instead of Microsoft's volume licensing.

Buying Windows Server 2019 via the OEM licensing method from Dell ensures that the operating system is pre-validated and tested on Dell hardware, Ahmad said. It also allows license reassignment to new server hardware within the data center and the standard versions to give customers hardware flexibility. However, in response to a partner question, Ahmad said some of those capabilities work only if partners buy the operating system from Dell and not via a distributor.

Finally, partners who work with OEM licensing become a one-stop shop to customers. "You don't have to worry about losing your business to Microsoft or to competitors," he said.

Most of what Ahmad discussed are things partners had better be aware of by now and preparing for, said Jason Robison, chief technology architect for Miken Technologies, a St. Louis, Mo.-based solution provider that primarily works with Dell Technologies.

"Customers really have no choice but to upgrade," Robison told CRN. "They know what's happening. The press and the industry has done a good job of promoting the coming end-of-life."

That said, solution providers should be using the operating system upgrade push to also help clients upgrade their hardware, Robison said.

"This gives us face time with customers," he said. "Security is the hot element here. With these upgrades and end-of-life that Microsoft forces on the customers, the greatest thing to come out is the ability to have face time with the customer. We can have our 'howdy-doody' greeting and then talk about the new technology."