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How to Navigate SQL Server 2008’s End of Support

Cloud | Posted on June 16, 2019

Editor’s note (June 2019): We updated this post to reflect the latest news about SQL Server 2008’s End of Support. 

It’s End of Support time for Microsoft SQL Server 2008. For any enterprise using it, this poses lots of immediate questions. Can I hang on to SQL 2008 regardless? If not, what are my migration options? When I do migrate, what are tools available to make it least painful, and how can Softchoice help with the migration process?

These are valid questions that need careful consideration and Microsoft has an array of options to suit unique needs.

Let’s examine the landscape in more detail.

Why Upgrade?

There are many reasons, like improved performance, and a more robust feature set. Probably the most compelling is security because, in today’s increasingly breach-heavy world, security updates should be considered mission critical. Here are some statistics gathered by Cisco that really drives this home. In 2016, malicious actors stole 4.2 billion records, and, of the organizations that were breached, 20% lost customers, and 30% lost revenue. You can’t afford to be one of these companies.

Also, part of the changing security landscape is regulation. Obviously, SQL 2008 wasn’t designed in view of today’s governmental data requirements. Therefore, failing to upgrade means being at risk of painful audits.

It’s true that Microsoft does offer the option to extend SQL 2008 security by three years. However, that’s an expensive option. It requires spending 75% of the full SQL license price every year, as well as having Software Assurance, which you may need to purchase. In the vast majority of cases, this ends up being more expensive than the cost of upgrading or at least being roughly the same price.

What Are the Options?

There are two high-level options to consider. The first: organizations can upgrade to SQL 2017 and run it on-premises or in the cloud. Second: organizations can use Azure as a platform for SQL 2017. While the first might seem easier, given the lack of required migration, there are lots of reasons to recommend the latter—cost, flexibility, and security.

Azure offers options that make migration palatable for a variety of use cases. For enterprises that require virtual machines that duplicate their existing hardware, or that conform to any other exacting requirements, IaaS services allow that. However, for those with less specific requirements, PaaS managed instances offer a lower total TCO, thanks to lower administrative costs. As well, PaaS offers up-to-the-minute scalability that makes peak workloads easier to handle. There’s no need to overprovision VM capacity.

In terms of cost savings, there are two big advantages with Azure—hybrid benefits, and reserved capacity. Hybrid benefits allow you to use existing SQL licenses with Azure, which can lead to savings of up to 55%. Moreover, in the reserved capacity plan, you can pay for services upfront at a discounted rate. This offers savings that can total 80% if combined with hybrid benefits.

Even if these Azure options sound great, though, you might be wondering whether migration will be difficult.

Azure Migration Options

While no large-scale migration is a trivial matter, Microsoft offers utilities that smooth the process. There are two: the Data Migration Assistant, and the Azure Data Migration Service. The former is an environment diagnosis tool: it identifies any migration issues in advance, eliminating unforeseen hiccups. The latter semi-automates the process, in a fashion that solves some typical migration headaches.

For example, a common problem with database migration is that by the time the migration is complete, the database is out of sync with the on-prem data. However, in Azure, that’s taken care of with continuous migration: ongoing updates that keep the data fresh as it’s going to the cloud.

There are a plethora of other relevant resources Microsoft offers. One example is database compatibility mode if there’s any reason that you have to maintain a 2008 database in a new Azure environment. The full range of options goes way beyond the scope of this blog post. Suffice it to say, however, that there’s a way to make Azure migration possible for your enterprise.

What Now?

How do you select the best of these options, and where do you start? These are questions that Softchoice will help you answer. To begin with, we can perform an SQL TechCheck Assessment. This will offer you a full view of your SQL 2008 environment and how it can be upgraded, and, if that’s the route you’d prefer, how it can be moved to Azure. In the latter case, our tried and tested Azure Accelerator program will get it done with speed and fluidity.

If you’re nervous about moving to the Cloud, click here to see if you may be eligible for our Cloud Accelerator program. We not only migrate your first production workload, but we also train your staff along the way. We would love to show you how upgrading SQL can be an opportunity for your enterprise, rather than a chore.

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