Maybe you were thinking of upgrading your legacy SQL servers to the latest and greatest versions?
Who is AffectedIn the consultancy practice at gethynellis.com we have both large and small clients. Its usually always the way, the small clients with less of a SQL Server infrastructure footprint find it easier to keep up within two versions of the latest version of SQL Server. Its very often the larger clients, with a large estate that struggle to keep all of their estate on supported versions and are usually the ones facing the end of support cliff edge.
I have seen SQL Server estates at many companies and businesses and, at an estimate I'd say that between 20 and 30% of the estate is on SQL Server 2008 R2 and below. There can be a number of reasons for this, including but not limited too, the applications the databases support require an older version of SQL Server, maybe the applications are also coming to the end of life, but the end dates do not not match up with the data platform end of support dates. In this situation you have period of time where your data platform is out of support completely.
Sometimes these applications are critical to the business and everything works just fine. The business doesn’t want to disrupt the application or introduce any risk by performing a migration to a new version. It works fine as it is, why would I want to change it? In which case the end of support cliff edge could be a problem for you too.
Extended Support End 9th July 2019Extend support ends on 9th July 2019 – today!
If you haven't done so yet you might be making plans to migrate your legacy SQL Servers off the unsupported versions. If you do find yourself in a situation with SQL Server 2008 R2 or below still running you have four options….
- Run on the out of support software
- You can modernise and migrate to the latest and greatest SQL Server platform or somewhere in-between
- You pay for a customer support contract with Microsoft so you continue to get security updates
- Or you can migrate the work load to Azure and you will continue to get the security updates for FREE!
Run on out of support softwareIf you decide to run on out support software and take the risk associated with running on out of support software. The main advantage of this approach is there is no further work for you to do. There are some disadvantages though that you should consider, the longer you run on the platform the greater the chances of you encountering a security vulnerability or failing a compliance test. Also if anything does go wrong you’ll have no support from Microsoft. When would I take this approach? If the database and its application are running on the old data platform and the application is also coming to the end of life but the dates don’t quite match up… Then I might consider running on this for a short while, I'm talking a few months tops. It might be your happy to run on out of support software for a month or two, maybe 6 months, maybe that’s pushing it. Any longer than that and I personally would be looking at some of the other options available.
Modernise! Upgrade or migrate to the latest and greatest SQL Server platform (or somewhere in-between)Modernise and upgrade is one of the options that you have available.
You can upgrade your on premises SQL Server estate to use say SQL Server 2017 – which at this time is the latest version of SQL Server that has been released to market. SQL Server 2019 is no doubt not far away. Or you could use this opportunity to jump in to the cloud! You could if you wanted look to migrate the databases to Azure either as IaaS solution where you run the VM in Azure or even the PaaS Azure SQL database offering
There are number of advantages to upgrading your data platform. You’ll be running your database workloads on an in support data platform, with a long support window. There will likely by new features in the latest and greatest version of SQL Server that you can use to add business value to your application – Availability Groups for example. Also you will likely find people with skills in the later technology, those skills will be more readily available in the jobs market.
The disadvantages of modernising and upgrading could include:
There will likely be a different licensing model – the licensing model changed between SQL Server 2008 R2 and SQL Server 2012 – it possible you might have to pay more for you SQL Server licences
If your workload and application is also near end of life the planning and work involved in an upgrade might not be worth it
When would I use? I’d use this approach if the applications and workloads living on the data platform are still in use with a reasonable shelf life and likely to be in use beyond the very short term.
Pay for a customer support contract with Microsoft
The third option is similar to the first option but instead of doing nothing you pay for a custom support agreement. The main advantage here is you can continue to get security updates and therefore potentially remaining compliant. The main disadvantage of this approach is the cost involved, which I understand to be 75% of the full license costs of the latest version of SQL Server and Windows Server.
When would I use this approach?
In all my time working and upgrading with SQL Server I have never executed this option. I think I would need to be in a situation where an upgrade was not possible for whatever reason that may be, and I had strict needs to remain complaint, or the gap between out of support and the application retiring was too long for my risk threshold.
Migrate workload to AzureMicrosoft have decided to allow SQL Server 2008 and SQL Server R2 VMs running in Azure to have the security updates for free for a further 3 years. So you can migrate your database server to azure and continue to gets security updates for free until 2022.
The main advantage of this is you get to keep running the same version of the OS and Data platform, the security updates are free so the cost is minimal and also once you're in Azure its then only a small jump to the full PaaS Azure SQL database or managed instance offering.
The disadvantages as far as I can see is you would need to move off premises, if this is not an option for you then you can’t exercise this option and there will still be work in involved in ‘lifting and shifting’ the VM to the cloud.
Whatever you do when support ends for SQL Server 2008 and SQL Server 2008 R2 have a plan
We are running a free webinar on 31st July to discuss some of these options and look at some useful techniques and tools that you can use to migrate and upgrade your SQL Server platform... Please do sign up if this sounds interesting to you.