Lenovo is urging its partners to play the long game on Windows Server 2003 migration by introducing customers to a free tool that will determine which hardware they need to refresh as they move off the 12-year-old OS.
With just 117 days to go before Microsoft withdraws support, Lenovo is working with the software giant to drive its MAP [Migration and Assessment Planning] toolkit at a partner and end-user level.
Talking to CRN, Thomas Goodwin, Lenovo storage and server manager for UK and Ireland, said that as of January, estimates suggest there were 400,000 Windows Server 2003 boxes still out in the UK field that potentially need upgrading.
"You could say it is almost counter-intuitive for a hardware vendor to do this," he said.
"But we would far rather help customers get it right and plan whether a hardware migration is the right thing to do than blindly bang the drum and force them down the wrong route. This extends to our channel community."
Microsoft's MAP tool, which is agentless, vendor agnostic and free of charge, can assess which hardware is capable of migrating from Server 2003 to 2012. Goodwin said Lenovo – whose share of the EMEA server market rose to 10 per cent following its IBM x86 acquisition – is offering partners training on how to help customers download the tool and interpret the results.
"It's a really easy, value-driven conversation they can have without [asking the customer] to put any dollars on the table," he said.
"If the results say the customer doesn't need to buy hardware, the partner can still help with the upgrade process and it demonstrates that they can be a trusted adviser, rather than a tin shifter."
Goodwin added: "It helps the customer make an informed decision on when and how to migrate. If they have invested in refreshed hardware in the last three years, they may find their hardware is fully capable of migrating from 2003 to 2012 without having to rip and replace their estate. It also gives the IT manager the power to go and request budget with a piece of paper that proves it's necessary."
According to research out this week, Windows Server 2003 end-of-support represents a $100bn (£67bn) opportunity for firms selling migration solutions.
Goodwin said there was a "good chance" that any firm that has not already embarked on the migration journey could miss the 14 March cut-off point, after which Microsoft will begin charging $600 per server for custom support.
"I don't think one market segment is more guilty of leaving it late than others, but we have seen a mix of organisations with legacy mission-critical applications they are struggling to fit into their migration schedule," he said.
"There are weeks' worth of planning, testing and development that go hand in hand with this. If you have not started now, there's a very good chance you could miss Microsoft's end-of-support deadline."
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