Closing the Windows on Hosting?

Mar 14, 2017 | by Peter Shashkin

In technology, everyone likes to talk about “future-proofing.” But even for the most cutting-edge tech, time always catches up. In its many forms, for example, Microsoft’s Windows OS has always been there, since 1993, to be precise, when Microsoft first released its Windows NT Advanced Server. And it seems, will always be there, right?

Not necessarily.

With the proliferation of cloud technologies, and the advent of “serverless” technology such as AWS Lambda or Azure Functions, today’s state of the cloud is still OS-centric, where developers need to write OS-specific code. However, more and more, it’s becoming a Linux-specific world as Windows-as-a-hosting-platform slowly disappears from the landscape.

As bash is integrated into new versions of Windows Server, and all new Microsoft tech today is Linux-compatible, one might wonder if Windows skills will remain relevant. New microservices technology from Microsoft – “Service Fabric”, SQL Server, and even .NET Core – all work across platforms. And, considering that Linux is a less expensive platform to run than Windows Server, it’s not unreasonable to predict that all Microsoft shops will gradually switch to Linux-based services.

Though some remaining foundations of Microsoft Enterprise – Exchange, Active Directory, and SharePoint, specifically – are still Windows-only technologies, it’s easy to see how both can eventually be ported to Linux, as well. That being said, even today, all SharePoint customizations are cross-platform already and don’t require Windows Server to run.

If Linux is the server OS of the future, that means your legacy Windows Server apps could be expensive – if not impossible – to run.

However, even if Windows Server comes to an end, there’s no need to panic. Microsoft is a member of the Linux Foundation, and cherishes its customer base, so it’s reasonable to expect Microsoft solutions running on both platforms in the near future. However, this means we all need to start planning for a next-generation hosting landscape without Windows.

So now you know. But what do you do with this information? How do you prepare for and facilitate a smooth transition of your systems to a world without Windows Server?

First, you’ll need an audit of where you’re at, and an understanding of how deep into Windows Server your organization is. Then, look at your short- and long-term plans – when does support end? When will you be purchasing new hardware? Is cloud migration on the horizon?

Next, you should explore the possibilities of architecting new solutions on a Linux-compatible platform, such as .NET Core and Node.JS – which are already established technologies in the Microsoft universe. At the same time, you want to avoid any technologies that introduce tight coupling with or reliance on Windows Server.

Understand that no system is completely future-proof. And if you’re on Windows Server now, I highly recommend that you consider strategies for moving forward. If you decide that it’s time for a transition, and want to know what to do, feel free to contact us . We’re always up for a Microsoft chat.