Ensure an Optimal Transition to SQL 2017 Following SQL 2008 EoS

May 21, 2019
Dan Ortman

Author

Dan Ortman

Microsoft Advisory Services Practice Lead at SoftwareONE | Linkedin

With SQL Server 2008’s end of support approaching on July 9th, 2019, organizations must be prepared to upgrade their database management system. Doing this in an optimal way is no easy task, and requires a skilled IT team and plenty of prior research. Despite the time and effort that is needed to smoothly move from SQL 2008 to a newer version such as SQL 2017, organizations must not put off this task as it is imperative to running a secure, compliant database.

Before beginning your transition to SQL 2017, it’s important to be able to justify this move to any stakeholders that do not understand the gravity of SQL 2008’s end of support. Keep reading to learn why an upgrade is necessary, and how to properly move to the newest version of SQL server.

Why Upgrade from SQL 2008?

Organizations may be reluctant to upgrade their existing instances of SQL Server 2008 due to the burden and complications that come with changing any business asset. This natural opposition to change is further compounded by the immense value of data. Collecting the right data can be time-consuming and expensive, and organizations with a wealth of data would be confronted with disaster if it were lost or misplaced. Not only that, but organizations running SQL 2008 have enjoyed great familiarity on how to manage and analyze their data on this platform. These legitimate concerns can cause organizations to freeze instead of taking the appropriate actions to upgrade their infrastructure.

Members of the organization must understand why they cannot keep running SQL Server 2008 before they can make a wholehearted effort to overhaul their database management system. The primary reason that IT teams must move to more advanced SQL options is SQL 2008’s end of support. This doesn’t just mean that SQL 2008 won’t receive any more quality of life upgrades. SQL EoS poses a sizeable compliance and security risk to your entire organization. With no more security hotfixes, your organization’s data will be entirely vulnerable to the next generation of malware.

While there are a number of options, like consolidating databases or instances to SQL Server versions greater than 2008/R2, many organizations are choosing to consider upgrading to SQL Server 2017 or Azure options such as Azure SQL (PaaS) or migrating workloads to Azure (IaaS) to take advantage of Microsoft’s extended security updates offer for SQL Server 2008/R2.

Benefits of SQL Server 2017

Compared to SQL Server 2008, SQL Server 2017 offers a variety of new features and benefits.

Performance and Productivity

First, expect better performance and productivity. This is due in part to a range of new helpful functions that were not available in SQL Server 2008. One example of a productivity function is STRING_AGG, which takes all expressions from rows and concatenates them into a single string. Another function would be TRIM, a quality-of-life command that removes spaces or other specified characters from the start or end of a string. With these quality of life improvements, your IT team will spend less time on day-to-day maintenance, and more time using creativity to optimize your data infrastructure.

Analytics

SQL Server 2017 also will lessen your IT team’s burden on interpreting analytics. It features better graph database structures, enabling your organization to visualize information with ease. This version of SQL server also allows users to add graphs and nodes. This will allow your IT team to more efficiently communicate the needs of the database across all levels of the organization, and better handle complex relationships within the instances of SQL Server 2017.

Integration

Compared to previous versions, SQL 2017 offers much better integration. Many services are now built-in to SQL Server 2017 and can be implemented upon installation. There are a variety of components available, such as Reporting Services, Machine Learning Services, or SQL Server Data Tools. In addition to these tools, SQL 2017 now supports Python for in-database analytics, meaning that Python-proficient IT teams can express concepts with less code than in SQL 2008, which only supported languages such as C++ and Java.

Linux Compatibility

In addition to this compatibility change, SQL Server 2017 is now compatible with Linux. Even better, it is virtually indistinguishable from the version that runs on Windows. This is a huge selling point for certain organizations that may have run Windows only for the express purpose of their SQL deployments. This is a game-changer for organizations that already have a sizeable Linux infrastructure, and can offer a huge cost savings.

Support

Finally, SQL Server 2017 will likely offer continued support for another decade. Having access to complete support can improve security and compliance initiatives, which organizations cannot afford to ignore. With so many benefits, organizations may find it difficult to justify not upgrading to SQL Server 2017 following SQL 2008’s end of support.

Advisory Services Can Help with SQL EoS

When mission-critical data is on the line, your organization’s first priority should be to mitigate their risk. That’s why consulting experts can be the most important step of your SQL EoS process. By using a service like SoftwareONE’s Microsoft Advisory Services, your organization’s current and future use of SQL Server 2008 will be used to determine the best roadmap for your organization’s upgrade to SQL Server 2017.

To learn more about the assistance your organization can receive to plan their future SQL investments, take a look at our Microsoft Advisory Services. Or, if you’d like to speak to an expert, contact us today.

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