AWS Partner Network (APN) Blog

How to Help Your Customers Move Their Windows Server 2003 Apps to the Cloud

Windows Server 2003 extended support ends July 14th, 2015, and with this comes the need for customers to re-evaluate where these workloads are hosted, as this platform will soon be unsupported. Customers have the opportunity to not only move these workloads to a newer Operating System (OS), but to virtualize these workloads to minimize security risk and regulatory concerns.  With millions of Windows 2003 Servers running today, customers can engage with AWS Partner Network (APN) Partners to help with inventorying, planning, decommissioning, migrating and rewriting these applications. Customers can move moving these applications into the Amazon Web Services (AWS) Cloud with the assistance of APN Partners such as yourself.

AWS will be removing the Windows 2003 AMIs off the website in April. Customers will still be able to deploy Windows Server 2003 until July 14th, 2017, but will need to fill out a form acknowledging that they understand that after July 2014, 2015 there will no longer be security updates or patches for the OS. Although customers still won’t get security patches from Microsoft for Windows Server 2003, the AWS cloud infrastructure has been architected to provide security for this [use case, workloads, etc.] without sacrificing scale, control, speed, or performance. Let’s dive into a few of the benefits you can help your customers realize by helping them move their Windows Server workloads to the AWS Cloud.


You can help customers fully isolate their AWS environment by creating private subnets with Amazon Virtual Private Cloud (Amazon VPC). You can use a traditional VPN, or a private, dedicated connection between your customers’ datacenter and the AWS Cloud using AWS Direct Connect for an even faster, lower-latency connection. Essentially, you can help customers decide which instances are exposed to the internet and which remain private, almost the same as if they left them in the back of their server room, “unplugged from the internet.”


Migrating to Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) for Windows allows customers to benefit from AWS’s economies of scale, reducing the total costs of enterprise IT. With a pay-as-you-go pricing model and no long-term service commitments, customers only pay for how much they consume and benefit from the ability to quickly scale up or down as needed and makes room in the budget for system integration.

Running Windows Server 2003 on old hardware that may be inefficient and out of warranty can leave customers with maintenance costs, service contracts, and can cause the headache of replacing outdated parts that can be hard to find. With Amazon EC2 for Windows, you can help your customers remove the hassle and costs associated with buying and configuring new hardware or maintaining older servers.

A New Home for Your Customers’ Legacy Apps

Many customers struggle with multiple apps that need to be decommissioned and are required to maintain running copies of legacy applications. You can work with customers to help them migrate these apps to Amazon EC2 for Windows, which has very low storage costs. This allows customers to simply store their non-running legacy virtual machines on the AWS Cloud for very low storage fees. If they need to run them, they can be easily restarted from the AWS Cloud. This level of transparency can be difficult to achieve on-premises.

Migrate to a Modern Operating System (OS)

In addition to Windows Server 2008 and Windows Server 2012 being more secure and supported software solutions, moving from on-premises to the AWS Cloud incorporates additional benefits as the AWS infrastructure is optimized for security and compliance regulations across a multitude of industries.  Some Windows Server 2003 applications will migrate easily and customers often need the support of an APN Partner who has experience with application migrations, DevOps, and architectural design to make these migrations happen successfully.

Move 32-bit Apps to the Cloud

Even though support for Windows Server 2003 is ending, customers don’t have to abandon their 32-bit applications. It’s a misconception that you can’t run 32-bit applications in the AWS Cloud. Amazon EC2 for Windows offers 32-bit instances that can be launched within minutes. APN Partners can also import existing 32-bit virtual machines to the AWS Cloud using the VM Import/Export feature. If customers are ready to migrate to a newer operating system, but still need to run 32-bit applications, AMIs pre-configured with Windows Server 2008 32-bit are ready for you, providing a more secure and supported environment for customers.

For customers who need more time to upgrade, you can migrate 32-bit applications to pre-configured Windows Server 2003 32-bit Amazon Machine Images (AMIs) until July 14, 2017, two years after Microsoft support ends. These compute instances are located in a Virtual Private Cloud, providing advanced security features such as the ability to 1) specify your IP range, 2) decide which instances are exposed to the internet and which remain private, and 3) choose to launch dedicated instances which run on hardware dedicated to a single customer for additional isolation.

Rewrite Legacy Apps

Some applications just won’t migrate, and will need to be rewritten.  This constitutes a great services engagement opportunity for your firm. When you’re ready to start the process of modernizing legacy Windows Server 2003 applications for your customers, you can find the tools and resources you need to modify your legacy applications with just a few clicks. The AWS Marketplace can help you find, buy, and immediately start using the software and services that run on Amazon EC2 for Windows providing the resources you need to help you develop secure, reliable, and scalable .NET applications. The AWS Windows and .NET Developer Center provides tools, documentation, and sample code and you can build your applications on Windows and .NET using the AWS SDK for .NET, including a library, code samples, and Visual Studio templates. Visual Studio users can get easily started with the SDK using the AWS Toolkit for Visual Studio.

Additional information can be found on the EC2 Developer Resources page.

Leverage other AWS Services

With AWS you have access to alternate solutions. If you are using Windows Server 2003 for file storage and sharing purposes, you can continue to run your applications on Windows, or choose to leverage other AWS services like Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3). With any AWS service you choose, the AWS Cloud infrastructure has been architected to be one of the most flexible and secure cloud computing environments available today enabling you to deploy applications and data for your customers quickly and securely.

With the end of support deadline quickly approaching, now is the ideal time to start having conversations with your customers to understand how you can help with planning, architecting, rewriting, and migrating their applications today.  AWS works with several great APN Technology Partners that have tools to help with the migrations, such as Cloudamize, AppZero, and Cloudendure.

If you have customers that need access to Microsoft Windows Server 2003 AMIs after April 15, 2015, please click here.