When Operating Systems Retire: What Does it Mean for Your Building?

Building management systems (BMS) are at the core of most facility operations. In one screen, building managers or operators can control electrical and mechanical operations, from managing temperature, ventilation and energy consumption to the elevators and security systems. So, what happens when one of the foundational elements of your BMS is no longer supported?

As technology rapidly evolves, so do the operating systems (OSes) that your BMS are built on. In June of 2022, Internet Explorer 11 was retired, and in October of 2023, Windows Server 2012 and Windows Server 2012 R2 will be retired. The retirement of these systems gives businesses an opportunity to transition to networks that help improve their speed, functionality and security.

What does the retirement of these OSes mean for your building’s management system?

Continuing to operate on platforms like the Windows Server 2012 past their end of life could result in stability problems and impact the usability of BMS that are still running on these operating systems (OSes) because technical support, patching or fixing bugs may no longer be available. It might seem surprising, but many businesses continue to run systems that are based on unsupported platforms. One study found that as many as 41% of businesses relied on either unsupported OSes or networks approaching their retirement.[i]

Unsupported OSes may leave you vulnerable to cybersecurity attacks

Because operational technology like HVAC systems and lighting are often connected to networks, continuing to use an outdated, unsupported OS may potentially expose your BMS to an increased risk of cyber attacks and data breaches. Threat actors are continuously looking for system vulnerabilities. Systems running on retired platforms can nearly triple the risks of a business experiencing a data breach, according to BitSight.[ii]

Using retired network servers can lead to an increased likelihood of facility interruptions

Continual advancement in technologies makes system hardware and software obsolete over time, even in a BMS. These systems can potentially cause operational disruptions in your building. The disruptions could range from the inconvenient to dangerous: failures in HVAC systems, lighting, elevators, security systems, etc. Experiencing a failure, like stuck elevators or the ability for employees to even enter an office building, can be costly and time consuming.

Why you should upgrade or maintain your system

Updating your building’s infrastructure, including the BMS, is like keeping up with your car maintenance. Taking a fresh look at how your system is operating and keeping your hardware and software up to date helps reduce the risk of leaving you stranded, without the ability to make necessary updates that provide good minimum cyber hygiene. In the long run, it can also help you save time and money, avoiding more costly repairs and replacements. Lastly, deploying proper upgrades can provide greater peace of mind knowing that you’re doing your best to keep your facility safe, secure, comfortable and more efficient.

Contact one of our experts today to make sure your building is operating using the latest technologies.

[i] FutureCIO, Many businesses still rely on unsupported or near end-of-life OS, Ken Wong, September 2019 [Accessed March 28, 2023]

[ii] Bitsight, Thousands of Organizations Run the Majority of their Computers on Outdated Operating Systems, Nearly Tripling Chances of a Data Breach [Accessed March 28, 2023]