Industry scare tactics

I keep getting things like this in my email:

Don’t get me wrong, I love Stallard, I buy from them and I understand their viewpoint.  They come from the philosophy there’s no harm in using a bit of fear to prod customers to pry open their wallets.  With Stallard, it’s not usually a large investment, they really are a pretty good bargain, good support, good warranty, etc.  I’m not here to give a gleaming review BUT I am here to use them as an example of what many IT companies do.

They use scare tactics to sell units.  It’s unwise in my opinion to make decisions based on fear.   Several things to point out about the EOL or “End of Life” of a Windows or any other product.

  1. They won’t be releasing patches – so what, they’ve probably ramped down patching that product anyway and have been reallocating resources into newer products.
  2. No support – so what, there’s still plenty of blogs, posts, support and patches available for download or reading that aren’t on Microsoft’s site or the vendors site 9 times out of 10.
  3. Non compliance – Yes, you may be non-compliant with HIPPA…BUT, if you don’t have to comply with HIPPA, the SEC or other government organizations so what, the OS still works and if you’ve taken a few steps to protect yourself like not use your computer as an admin, us FireFox with adblock lite, noscript, have antirus running and don’t use your computer for non-work related surfing…then who cares?  You can still use a perfectly good OS UNTIL your actual applications stop working.
  4. Leaving your system vulnerable to attack – come on!  You can’t be serious!  Isn’t your system ALWAYS vulnerable to attack…technically?  Unless you minimize your footprint (exposure to the outside or inside) you’re always at risk.  Systems should be designed to be “locked down”, not only physically but digitally including internal access.  That means putting it behind a firewall, that means having the server firewall enabled and configured, not using the server as a workstation and browsing the web with it, etc.
  5. Exchange 2003 – the ONLY reason to be in a rush to dump Exchange 2003 is because it might not work well with new devices.  Most enterprises that I’m aware of no longer use Exchange 2003, I believe people still using it are the people with Small Business Server 2003 which bundles Exchange 2003 into it.  Those folks are out of luck in newer Small Business Server offerings from M$ (Micro$oft) and M$’s unbundled it so they can push you to their cloud offerings.  I wouldn’t make any rash moves here, what I’d do is look at open source alternatives to Exchange like Zarafa (completely free, web based all you need is licensing if you want to use Outlook ha ha!), Kerio Connect (not free but cheap), Zimbra (a bit more than Kerio) or if you don’t need Exchange functionality with shared calendaring or the Exchange protocol (so you can use smart phone’s, tablet’s, etc that use the Exchange protocol) just use an open source server like postfix or sendmail.  Pretty much ANY web hosting provider already offers you an email server included in your hosting package.  I had a client using their hosting providers email server (postfix) that had like 25 users and they just pop’d their mail down.  They’ve since moved it to the next level and have almost 70 email users and they’re using Zimbra with a dedicated server but it worked for them for quite some time.  For “shared calendaring” they actually used (at the time) a sharepoint calendar which is built into windows server for free ;)

The point of this post is this…

Don’t let someone scare you just because there’s some deadline – your servers WON’T stop working, they WON’T blow up and they’re NOT a ticking time bomb.  Slow down, look at your options and in fact…it’s a PERFECT TIME to re-evaluate your strategy when it comes to IT.  Perhaps a look at a new open source option like Zentyal is for you?  It’s an open source “small business server” that’s a replacement for small business server from Microsoft, has AD like integration, Zarafa email services, DNS, file sharing, etc, etc.  It’s great, I have it implemented on a site for a client and they love it.