Prepare to deliver Extended Security Updates for Windows Server 2012
With Windows Server 2012 and Windows Server 2012 R2 having reached end of support on October 10, 2023, Azure Arc-enabled servers lets you enroll your existing Windows Server 2012/2012 R2 machines in Extended Security Updates (ESUs). Affording both cost flexibility and an enhanced delivery experience, Azure Arc better positions you to migrate to Azure.
The purpose of this article is to help you understand the benefits and how to prepare to use Arc-enabled servers to enable delivery of ESUs.
Azure VMware Solutions (AVS) machines are eligible for free ESUs and should not enroll in ESUs enabled through Azure Arc.
Delivering ESUs to your Windows Server 2012/2012 R2 machines provides the following key benefits:
Pay-as-you-go: Flexibility to sign up for a monthly subscription service with the ability to migrate mid-year.
Built-in inventory: The coverage and enrollment status of Windows Server 2012/2012 R2 ESUs on eligible Arc-enabled servers are identified in the Azure portal, highlighting gaps and status changes.
Keyless delivery: The enrollment of ESUs on Azure Arc-enabled Windows Server 2012/2012 R2 machines won't require the acquisition or activation of keys.
Access to Azure services
For Azure Arc-enabled servers enrolled in WS2012 ESUs enabled by Azure Arc, free access is provided to these Azure services from October 10, 2023:
- Azure Update Manager - Unified management and governance of update compliance that includes not only Azure and hybrid machines, but also ESU update compliance for all your Windows Server 2012/2012 R2 machines. Enrollment in ESUs does not impact Azure Update Manager. After enrollment in ESUs through Azure Arc, the server becomes eligible for ESU patches. These patches can be delivered through Azure Update Manager or any other patching solution. You'll still need to configure updates from Microsoft Updates or Windows Server Update Services.
- Azure Automation Change Tracking and Inventory - Track changes in virtual machines hosted in Azure, on-premises, and other cloud environments.
- Azure Policy Guest Configuration - Audit the configuration settings in a virtual machine. Guest configuration supports Azure VMs natively and non-Azure physical and virtual servers through Azure Arc-enabled servers.
Other Azure services through Azure Arc-enabled servers are available as well, with offerings such as:
Microsoft Defender for Cloud - As part of the cloud security posture management (CSPM) pillar, it provides server protections through Microsoft Defender for Servers to help protect you from various cyber threats and vulnerabilities.
Microsoft Sentinel - Collect security-related events and correlate them with other data sources.
Activation of ESU is planned for the third quarter of 2023. Using Azure services such as Azure Update Manager and Azure Policy to support managing ESU-eligible Windows Server 2012/2012 R2 machines are also planned for the third quarter.
Prepare delivery of ESUs
Plan and prepare to onboard your machines to Azure Arc-enabled servers through the installation of the Azure Connected Machine agent (version 1.34 or higher) to establish a connection to Azure. Windows Server 2012 Extended Security Updates supports Windows Server 2012 and R2 Standard and Datacenter editions. Windows Server 2012 Storage is not supported.
We recommend you deploy your machines to Azure Arc in preparation for when the related Azure services deliver supported functionality to manage ESU. Once these machines are onboarded to Azure Arc-enabled servers, you'll have visibility into their ESU coverage and enroll through the Azure portal or using Azure Policy. Billing for this service starts from October 2023 (i.e., after Windows Server 2012 end of support).
In order to purchase ESUs, you must have Software Assurance through Volume Licensing Programs such as an Enterprise Agreement (EA), Enterprise Agreement Subscription (EAS), Enrollment for Education Solutions (EES), or Server and Cloud Enrollment (SCE). Alternatively, if your Windows Server 2012/2012 R2 machines are licensed through SPLA or with a Server Subscription, Software Assurance is not required to purchase ESUs.
You must also download both the licensing package and servicing stack update (SSU) for the Azure Arc-enabled server as documented at KB5031043: Procedure to continue receiving security updates after extended support has ended on October 10, 2023.
There are several at-scale onboarding options for Azure Arc-enabled servers, including running a Custom Task Sequence through Configuration Manager and deploying a Scheduled Task through Group Policy.
Delivery of ESUs through Azure Arc to virtual machines running on Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) is not recommended. VDI systems should use Multiple Activation Keys (MAK) to apply ESUs. See Access your Multiple Activation Key from the Microsoft 365 Admin Center to learn more.
Connectivity options include public endpoint, proxy server, and private link or Azure Express Route. Review the networking prerequisites to prepare non-Azure environments for deployment to Azure Arc.
If you are using Azure Arc-enabled servers only for the purpose of Extended Security Updates for Windows Server 2012, you can enable the following subset of endpoints:
|Agent resource||Description||When required||Endpoint used with private link|
||Used to resolve the download script during installation||At installation time, only||Public|
||Used to download the Windows installation package||At installation time, only||Public|
||Microsoft Entra ID||Always||Public|
||Microsoft Entra ID||Always||Public|
||Azure Resource Manager - to create or delete the Arc server resource||When connecting or disconnecting a server, only||Public, unless a resource management private link is also configured|
||Metadata and hybrid identity services||Always||Private|
||Extension management and guest configuration services||Always||Private|
||Certificate download for ESUs||ESUs enabled by Azure Arc||Public|
To take advantage of the full range of offerings for Arc-enabled servers, such as extensions and remote connectivity, ensure that you allow the additional URLs that apply to your scenario. For more information, see Connected machine agent networking requirements.
Find out more about planning for Windows Server and SQL Server end of support and getting Extended Security Updates.
Learn about best practices and design patterns through the Azure Arc landing zone accelerator for hybrid and multicloud.
Learn more about Arc-enabled servers and how they work with Azure through the Azure Connected Machine agent.
Explore options for onboarding your machines to Azure Arc-enabled servers.