As new versions of existing products are released, developers begin to focus on the improvements and expansion of these newer versions and are required to end support on aging products.

Microsoft, for example, generally supports their business class products for ten years, and then for another 5 years after the product’s successor is released. When a product reaches the end of its life cycle, businesses are forced to plan for a transition to the newer, supported product to remain secure and, in most cases, within regulatory compliance.

Earlier this year many businesses were forced to upgrade operating systems on existing XP machines, which have not received extended support from Microsoft since April 2014. A lack of extended support means that the OS will no longer have security updates or patches to protect it from attacks, making the machine vulnerable to online threats. As a result, Windows XP is no longer able to satisfy compliance requirements for businesses that have regulatory obligations.

Transitioning from one operating system to another takes planning, budgeting and proper execution to ensure business continuity and reduced downtime. As we move further into 2015, it is important to know that Microsoft will also be ending extended support for Windows Server 2003 on July 14, 2015.

If some or all of a business’s servers are Windows Server 2003, migrating to another server OS or even a cloud-based solution is necessary. Whereas a desktop refresh for the unsupported Windows XP can be staged and completed one workstation at a time, a transition for a server migration must be carefully planned and completed during a set time frame.

An increasing amount of businesses are migrating to cloud-based solutions as well. Allowing mail and data to be hosted in the cloud not only prevents being ever being out of support for Microsoft products, but also provides you with the most up-to-date products available.

Whether it’s a workstation refresh, a server operating system upgrade, cloud strategy development or any other migration, lifecycle management is an important component of the overall IT strategy. It should be treated with priority from an executive level to ensure your business’s infrastructure is secure and up-to-date.