We have an production VM server with Windows 2012 R2, Coldfusion 11, PHP 7, mySQL 5.5 and SmarterMail with about 30 sites on it.

Our hosting company is recommending we move to a new VM with new versions of all installed and migrate our sites our to the new platform.

We do plan to do this at some point, but in the interim, would it wise or just inviting trouble to upgrade our existing Windows Server 2012 to Server 2016?

Our reason is that we are being often hit with SYN attacks, and have been advised Windows 2016 will be better at mitigating the SYN attacks.

If we did, would we have to reinstall CF, PHP, mySQL, SM? Or would the upgrade process keep all the current 2012 configuration settings and migrate them to 2016 version?

Or are the 2012/2016 versions too different and its bound to cause problems?

thank you for any help, Alex

  • Coldfusion 11 is end of life (unless you have extended support) and does not support Windows Server 2016. – Greg Askew Aug 12 '19 at 17:38

The operating system versions are not very different per se - most stuff that works on 2012 R2 should work on 2016 too - but I don’t have terribly positive experiences with in-place upgrades. There’s always cruft, and there are often non-standard system changes that someone forgot to document that may come back to bite you.

If the migration to an entirely new server is still a long way off, do you have any possibility to clone the 2012 R2 server into a non-production environment, perform the upgrade and try things out as well as possible, to get a preview of issues that may crop up once you do the upgrade of the live environment?

To view the issue from another perspective: if the SYN flooding is the primary reason for considering an in-place upgrade, can the hosting provider help you set up a firewall or reverse proxy in front of your server instead? Something that actually was designed to handle malicious network traffic? In that way you might buy some time to set up the new server in a more orderly manner.

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  • Any thoughts on the claim that Server 2016 will help mitigate the SYN attacks? Sounds pretty dubious to me. – Harry Johnston Aug 13 '19 at 2:26
  • Frankly I couldn’t say. I know they made some improvements somewhere between 2008R2 and 2012R2, but I don’t know of any massive redesign after that. On the other hand Microsoft’s Internet effort has been good for Windows, so I can’t say that they haven’t made improvements either. – Mikael H Aug 13 '19 at 5:14

Thanks to everyone for their responses.

We have taken several steps

  • Moved to SNI on our current server reducing from 30+ IPs to 1,
    reducing the exposure
  • Installed a h/w firewall, currently tuning it.
  • Migrating off the old platform to a new server with Windows Server 2016

thanks again, Alex

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