Are You Ready for SQL Server 2008 End of Support?

by Oct 11, 2019

Organizations and individuals who use Microsoft SQL Server 2008 have to make a choice. Extended support of the database platform ended as of July 9, 2019. This should come as no surprise to anyone involved with SQL Server as it had long been known that support would cease on that date.

Best practices should have made this issue irrelevant by now, as with all that lead time there is no excuse for not having a plan to move forward in some way. But as we all know, things fall through the cracks or get relegated to the back burner in the fast-paced world of information technology. Unfortunately, forgetting about it or putting off dealing with the support termination does not minimize the issue.

Better late than never, it’s time to decide what you will do with your installed base of SQL Server 2008 databases. You have a few options from which to choose.

Move to a New Database Platform

A radical move would be to adopt a different database platform and migrate all of your SQL Server instances to the new solution. There should be a compelling reason to take this route. It will involve a lot of work and a learning curve that may negatively impact your business. Unless you have been looking for a good excuse to move away from SQL Server, this will probably not be the option your organization selects.

Continue With an Unsupported SQL Server 2008 Implementation

End of support doesn’t mean that the software simply stops working. What it means is that Microsoft will no longer supply security updates, patches, or provide technical support in the event you have a serious SQL Server meltdown. So as long as the databases continue to work, the issue becomes how comfortable you and your business are with the lack of support.

Lack of technical support in itself may not be a deciding factor. You have been using Server 2008 for over a decade and are comfortable that any issues which come up can be addressed with in-house expertise. More concerning is the fact that no security updates will be forthcoming from Microsoft. How important is the security of your databases?

In the case of production databases, this should not be a serious question. It is essential that you take every precaution to maintain their security. Hackers are ready to exploit your SQL Servers and any other SQL databases they can access. Running without the most current security updates poses a substantial risk that needs to be carefully weighed against the costs or complications of moving of SQL Server 2008.

You don’t want to be the one responsible for staying with the platform when sensitive data is compromised due to outdated security protection. While many companies may opt for this solution for short-term financial or time savings, it is not recommended for anything but test servers that do not impact your business.

Migrate to a Supported Version of SQL Server

Microsoft has a well-documented roadmap for migrating to a supported version of SQL Server. If you plan on maintaining an on-premises SQL Server installation, this is the recommended path to ensuring your databases get the latest security updates and technical support. There is no other way to keep using a fully supported SQL Server. You need to upgrade to a newer version.

Before proceeding with the upgrade you may want to consider the cloud options offered by Microsoft Azure. If you were thinking about moving to the cloud for other reasons, this could well be the tipping point that makes Azure the more attractive option from a business perspective.

Migrate to Microsoft Azure

There are two ways of moving your SQL Server 2008 instances to the cloud. You can move your databases to Azure Virtual Machines and obtain three years of extended security upgrades at no charge. This allows you to develop a plan to migrate to a newer version of SQL Server while maintaining support. If you simply want a safe way to migrate to a newer version of SQL Server at your own pace, this is a good option that keeps your data protected.

The cloud alternative offered by Microsoft is to host your databases on Azure SQL Database. There are detailed migration procedures available from Microsoft and this path moves your databases firmly to the cloud. It presents a more ambitious method of maintaining support from Microsoft while moving away from the generic SQL Server offering.

Keeping an Eye on Your SQL Servers

No matter how you move forward with SQL Server, you will be faced with many of the same issues that previously affected your systems. You will be called upon to perform the same type of monitoring and alerting no matter which version of SQL Server is in use or where a particular instance is now living.

SQL Diagnostic Manager for SQL Server can handle all of the monitoring and alerting you need to keep your SQL Server instances performing at peak efficiency. It has you covered on both sides of the migration, with support for SQL Server 2008 as well as all newer versions. The tool also supports Microsoft Azure SQL Database if that is the migration option your enterprise has chosen.

So don’t be that DBA who sits back and keeps quiet about the unsupported system they are expected to maintain. Let your bosses know that there are viable ways to keep SQL Server fully supported while keeping a familiar tool that helps keep it performing well. It never hurts to sound the alarm over potential security exposure.