SQL 2008 end of support

SQL Server 2008 EoS

Considerations When Building Your Roadmap

Top Considerations When Building Your Roadmap for SQL 2008 Server End of Support

SQL Server 2008 reached End of Service on July 9th, 2019, disrupting the day-to-day operations of many organizations. By not taking the initiative to upgrade, organizations won’t only miss opportunities to achieve operational efficiency, but they will no longer receive continued security updates, compromising their Cyber-Security and leaving their network open to attack.

As a result, it should be a top priority for organizational leaders to upgrade their SQL Server deployment. However, creating a roadmap to accomplish this deployment as smoothly as possible requires considerable research for informed decision making. Read on to learn more about the considerations to evaluate to choose the best possible SQL Server solution, read on.

What Options are Available?

When creating a roadmap for SQL 2008’s end of support, it’s important to evaluate the actions that your organization can take. This decision should be made with careful consideration, since every organization has its own unique needs and requirements. When considering which direction to take after SQL EoS, organizations have four main paths:

  1. Accept the Risk - Instead of upgrading or opting for continued support, some organizations choose to accept the risk of having out-of-date software. While this option doesn’t require any upfront investments, chances are it will cost the organization down the line. Estimates show that 5 percent of all security issues can be directly attributed to out-of-date software. Due to the immense loss that a serious breach can cause an organization, accepting the risk is not a wise decision.
  2. Upgrade to SQL Server 2017 - This is a route that suits the needs of some organizations very well. If your organization is unsure of the feasibility of deploying cloud-based solutions or platforms-as-a-service, then SQL Server 2017 may be an appropriate choice. This is an on-premise solution that will mitigate risk far more effectively than not taking any action at all.
  3. Migrate to Azure SQL - This method is one of the most popular ways for organizations to migrate, or replatform, to Azure. Azure SQL is a simple to deploy cloud-based solution that simplifies the process of running an organization’s database. In addition to its ease of use, it is also the future-proof choice – Azure SQL’s cloud-based nature makes it scalable, to the extent of storing petabytes of data.
  4. Opt for Extended Security Updates - If your organization cannot decide in time, or cannot feasibly upgrade before SQL Server 2008’s end of support, extended security updates are an option to consider. Unfortunately, these extended security updates come at a premium price. While extended security updates will keep your organization’s data safe, it’s rarely considered a sustainable, long-term option.

4 Considerations When Building Your Roadmap for SQL 2008 End of Support

With the inevitable conclusion of support for SQL Server 2008 approaching, there are a few key considerations for decision makers to ponder. By keeping these four considerations in mind, your organization will be more prepared for SQL EoS.

Determine Where SQL 2008 is Used

To help determine which option is best, organizations should consider where SQL is being used in their environment. This will help organizations determine the size of the potential migration, along with how business-critical or sensitive the information stored in these databases is.

First, organizations should ask if any instances are business critical. If a significant amount of business-critical information is stored in these databases, the best decision is usually to upgrade to SQL 2017. SQL 2017 has the benefit of being located on-premises or in the cloud, and as a result it will cause less of a disruption for business processes and workflows. This way, hiccups in upgrading your SQL solution will be minimized.

Another situation to consider is regulatory requirements. Using Azure SQL can occasionally cause problems with software compliance, depending heavily on specific license agreements. This is because some license agreements forbid deployment in cloud environments. Alternatively, keeping SQL 2008 could cause a range of compliance challenges, meaning its generally a wise decision to not maintain a SQL 2008 instance following end of support. As a result, it would be wise to ensure that whichever option an organization settles on is compatible with compliance agreements.

Last, consider if there is any sensitive data in your SQL 2008 database. If there is sensitive data, then organizations must ensure that the migration away from SQL 2008 is accomplished on time. Otherwise, an organization could be at serious risk of catastrophic data breaches. To ensure that SQL is constantly up-to-date, consider Azure SQL which automatically updates to ensure a high standard of security in a cloud environment. On the other hand, if your customers are skeptical regarding the security of the cloud, an on-premise solution should be considered.

Consider Long-Term Business Goals

Organizations seeking to make a roadmap should keep their long-term business goals in mind during the entire drafting process. Ask stakeholders if it makes sense to lift and shift your SQL environment into the cloud, or if it makes more sense to rebuild the SQL environment in SQL 2017.

Also, ask if there are any other motivations besides digital transformation initiatives causing an inclination towards Azure in particular. If your organization can justify a move to Azure based on other initiatives, it makes perfect sense to make a migration to Azure sooner rather than later to better align with digital transformation goals.

Which Stakeholders Should Be Involved?

Before implementing any changes to your organization’s SQL environment, it is important to identify and involve influential stakeholders.

  1. IT Leaders: Members of IT leadership know the intricacies of an organization’s technical infrastructure, and will be able to give well-informed input as to which SQL option is most conducive to IT’s overarching goals and objectives. 
  2. Database Administration: Database administrators work even more intimately with SQL than IT leaders. This means they understand the nuances of what will be required to ensure that the database runs as needed.
  3. Chief Information Officer: This stakeholder should be involved as a trusted and informed channel of communication with the rest of upper management. Ensuring their buy-in is essential to the approval and implementation of the chosen SQL solution across the entire organization.

Identify Sources of Overspending

Once the best possible SQL solution has been determined, it is necessary to identify any sources of overspending that may exist in your chosen SQL solution. For example, if all stakeholders agreed to upgrade to Azure SQL, it is important to ensure your servers are right-sized and all existing entitlements are leveraged correctly.

Alternatively, no matter which solution is chosen, organizations must scan for potential licensing and compliance issues across the organization’s Microsoft Stack. Organizations should try to resolve any sources of overspending before upgrading to the new version of the SQL, and continue to optimize spending while their chosen version is being deployed.

With SQL 2008’s end of support having already passed the deadline, organizations must create a firm, comprehensive roadmap to minimize challenges. Creating this roadmap is complicated and requires a great amount of expertise and planning. For organizations that wish to draw on an expert’s advice and ensure they are moving in the best possible direction, consider taking a look at our Microsoft Advisory Services.

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Dan Ortman, Author SoftwareONE Blog

Dan Ortman

Microsoft Advisory Services Practice Lead

Publisher Advisory | Microsoft

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