The beginning of July is generally a time for enjoying yourself with family and friends, whether you’re an American celebrating on the 4th or a Canadian whooping it up on the 1st. A percentage of DBAs won’t be in a party-friendly frame of mind that week, though, because just a few days later, July 9, 2019, Microsoft will end its extended support for SQL Server 2008.
If you’re still running SQL Server 2008 for at least some of your workloads, you have a stark choice to make and worryingly little time to make it. You can either upgrade to a newer, supported product over the next few months, or you can try to soldier on for a bit longer with your existing software.
At first blush, maintaining the status quo might seem less work and less disruptive than a massive migration of your databases and the applications they support. That’s not really the case, unfortunately. Upgrading is unquestionably a major project, but running dated and unsupported software isn’t exactly the path of least resistance. In truth, it trades a largely manageable and predictable set of challenges for others that are less so. To put it another way, you’ll be losing the safety net that underpins your work.
What Risks Will You Face?
- Security Risks: To start with the most obvious issue, the end of security updates will leave your databases and their data vulnerable to bad actors. A highly public data breach could damage not just your company’s reputation, but its crucial business relationships: Target’s ugly 2013 data breach came through a vendor’s vulnerability, for example. Add in the potential for liability, and this becomes a significant threat.
- Compliance Issues: How tightly regulated is your industry? If you’re required to comply with specific technological requirements, keeping your applications and data on a dated system, any change in those compliance requirements could leave you unable to meet them.
- “Blank Check” Maintenance Costs: After the deadline comes and goes, every imaginable maintenance issue will have to be handled from your own resources. Bug fixes and code problems? You own them. Costly, specialized consultants to maintain your legacy systems? Absolutely. The potential for a show-stopping outage that brings your customer-facing applications to a crashing halt? You bet.
A Better Way Forward
Migrating to newer technology, whether it’s SQL Server 2017, Azure or a hybrid of cloud and on-premises servers, is unquestionably a major task. It’s a manageable task, though, and one that will leave your data center better positioned to grow and evolve as your needs change.
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Are your databases and infrastructure still running SQL Server 2008? Your chances of risking business disruption increase when you rely on databases that are out of support.
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