Don’t Let the End of Microsoft Extended Support Put Your Systems at Security, Legal or Compliance Risk
By Connor Cox, Director of Business Development at DH2i
With Microsoft Extended Support for SQL Server 2008 and 2008 R2 ending in just under a year, there are a number of things to consider if you’re still using either of these versions.
Microsoft offers a number of various phases of support for their SQL Server releases. Mainstream Support covers years 0-5 and resolves security and functional issues. Extended Support encompasses years 6-10 and irons out security and critical functional issues. These two used to be all that were offered, but there’s a new security option. This new plan offers security updates for an additional three years for free. There is a catch though: the workloads must be moved to the Azure cloud. Alternately, you can purchase extended security updates for 75% of the licensing costs annually for up to three years. This new paid Extended Security Update plan requires Software Assurance and can only be applied to currently supported versions of SQL Server (as of the time of writing, that is SQL Server 2008 and newer).
There are three avenues available to take at the end of Extended Support. You could upgrade to a newer version before the July 9, 2019 deadline, you could purchase extended security updates for 75% of the licensing costs per year, or you could do nothing… and put your systems at security, legal and regulatory compliance risk.
If upgrading is the path you’re thinking of pursuing, there are a number of considerations to keep in mind. The first consideration is that of which version to choose. You will want to consider what your budget looks like, your organization’s high availability and disaster recovery (HA/DR) requirements, and the number of cores you need to buy or renew. Scheduling downtime for testing – and the migration itself – also needs to be taken into account. Knowing these considerations can help you to set objectives for the upgrade. Two of the objectives will likely include minimizing the cost by upgrading the fewest cores as possible, and upgrading to the least expensive edition that fulfils your feature and performance requirements. Another objective might be to have the least disruptive upgrades as possible to minimize downtime.
The good news is that you don’t have to do this on your own – there are tools that can help you to streamline your migrations from SQL Server 2008/R2. Here again, you have choices to make. In a perfect world, you will of course want a solution that has built-in high availability (HA) and disaster recovery (DR) capabilities. And, if minimizing costs is a goal, you will want to minimize the number of cores you need to upgrade – so you should seek a solution that also assists with consolidation. Avoiding Enterprise Edition will also help to minimize costs – so seek a solution that allows and enables 3+ node clusters on any edition. This could likely save you 25-60% in cost. And, this feature also ensures the highest levels of availability.
As the Beatles song goes, “I get by with a little help from my friends.” In this case, your friend would be a multi-platform high availability (HA), disaster recovery (DR) and cost improvement solution. This type of solution will set you on your way to drastically reducing IT management complexity, enabling near zero downtime, and enjoying as high as a 60% cost savings – all while ensuring security, legal and regulations compliance requirements are met.