Later in 2019, as well as throughout 2020, a range of major Microsoft products will reach the end of extended support. That means that products like SQL Server 2008 and 2008 R2, Windows Server 2008 and 2008 R2, Windows 7 Professional and many more will no longer receive security updates.
So what do resellers need to do to ensure their clients stay connected and stay secure as the landscape begins to change?
In 2017, Microsoft announced that products in end of mainstream support will no longer be able to connect to Office 365 services, equally for security reasons. However, these products will keep receiving security updates, patches and support until they reach end of extended support.
If a Microsoft product is no longer supported, a range of issues may come into play.
Issues with software may not be addressed. Questions about proper operation may be left unanswered, which can lead to technical problems and mistakes, as well as impacting functionality as well as security.
What’s more, nearly all major modern software packages require periodic updates to ensure they stay secure against vulnerabilities. If a package is no longer supported, fixes may not be created even if vulnerabilities are discovered and reported. This can be compounded by newer software being updated and upgraded. Before too long, technical problems creep in as conflicts and incompatibilities begin to take over.
Microsoft support phases explained
It can be confusing, but choosing the right level of support is crucial to protect customers and their investments. If an end user is already on the cloud with Office 365, Azure or Dynamics 365 they don't need to worry about any changes, as they are already covered by Microsoft’s Modern Lifecycle policy, the details of which are outlined above. As long as the customer stays current in relation to system and servicing requirements, they will have no problems. In this situation, resellers simply need to explore any upselling opportunities and add-ons, as well as check that they are using the services to maximum advantage.
Which products will be affected?
In addition, the following Office editions are already on or getting into end of mainstream support.
After October 2020, only Office 2019 will be able to connect to Office 365 services. That means businesses on older versions of Office won't be able to connect to online services like email, or even their own cloud-based applications. Now is the time to prepare end users for change.
Microsoft advise that there are four key stages that IT resellers can identify and guide customers through.
1. Gain insights
For customers that have not yet begun, the first step is gaining insights. This means utilizing free tools like Windows Analytics and the Office Readiness Toolkit. These enable IT teams to gain visibility across their environments to create detailed, accurate deployment plans that they can execute with confidence.
2. Standardise and set foundations
The next step is standardizing devices on Windows 10 and Office 365 (ProPlus). For some customers this means upgrading Windows and/or Office. For customers with devices older than four years, Westcoast Cloud recommends refreshing with new, modern devices with Windows 10 pre-installed.
A great way to license Windows 10 and Office 365 is via Microsoft 365, because it provides a range of different options for different customer types and needs.
3. Stay current
Once devices are on Windows 10 and Office 365 the next step is shifting from project to process; keeping devices current with the latest security and productivity features. Customers can choose to create a stay-current process, but we recommend leveraging a phased deployment methodology, utilizing products and services in the EMS suite that is included with most Microsoft 365 offerings.
4. Modernize IT
And finally, once devices and IT teams are in a stay-current motion we recommend customers start to think about modernizing IT practices. This means adopting technologies like Azure Active Directory, Windows Autopilot and Microsoft Intune.
Customers need to move through all four stages in order to unlock the full value and benefit of a modern desktop, but they will see increasing value and benefit as they move through the journey.
The benefits of cloud adoption
From increased uptime, to heightened security and cost savings, there are so many advantages that can be communicated to a customer who is considering switching over to cloud.
When company systems fail, the loss to a business can be overwhelming, both financially and due to an erosion of customer trust. Working in the cloud helps alleviate the issues, with 75% of SMBs saying they have seen improved service availability since moving to the cloud and 96% saying it creates less worries about outages*.
Far from being less secure, working in the cloud is safer than using on-premises solutions, with cyber criminals moving up the application stack to uncover vulnerabilities. According to Alert Logic Cloud Security Insights, businesses have experienced a 51% higher rate of security incidents in on-premises data centres than those in the cloud. In addition, a Cloud Trust Study conducted by comScore Inc shows that 94% of SMBs have experienced security benefits in the cloud that they didn’t previously have with an on-premise technology approach. This includes keeping systems updated, spam email management and up-to-date antivirus software.
Microsoft is also offering free Extended Security Updates in Azure for 2008 and 2008 R2 versions of SQL server and Windows server; read all about it on Cloud Mix.
When companies move to the cloud, the increased efficiencies can result in considerable cost savings. As a wide range of major Microsoft products reach the end of extended support, start the conversation with your customers and help them accomplish more in less time by modernizing their operations with Microsoft 365 and Westcoast Cloud. Get in touch to find out more.