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Joey details the ins and outs of upgrading these aging Microsoft servers, including licensing changes, support options and potential pitfalls. A decade ago, Windows 7 had just been released and Microsoft introduced new versions of its database and server operating system software. Both SQL Server and Windows Server had ground-breaking new features like transparent data encryption and data compression, and massive improvements to existing features like Windows Server Failover Cluster.
These products represented big leaps forward and have withstood the test of time for many application stacks. However, all good things must end. Microsoft, always interested in helping customers move to its Azure cloud platform, has offered three additional years of support -- ending on July for SQL Server and January for Windows Server -- to give customers time to move workloads to Azure. Under this Extended Security Updates ESU option, Microsoft will continue to provide security updates for the servers without requiring users to have a migration plan in place, the way it did with Windows Server support in Azure.
The other benefit to moving older workloads to the cloud is that subsequent migrations can go a lot easier, since the public cloud provides nearly limitless storage and network bandwidth. If you don't have the option to move to Azure and you can't upgrade quickly, be prepared to get out your checkbook or run the risk of not having support.
What does it mean to not have support? If you call Microsoft customer service and support with a problem, they are going to tell you that you have two choices: This is a daunting prospect for many organizations. This also poses a risk in the event of another major security attack like Spectre and Meltdown , or any of the various major remote desktop vulnerabilities , or the remote code execution bug in SQL Server.
If a bug like that happens, it is unlikely that Microsoft will issue a patch for versions that are out of support. While you can purchase an ESU subscription, this requires you to have Software Assurance on those licenses. In many cases, the reason why a customer is still on an older version is because without Software Assurance, they have no upgrade rights. For those of you who do not have Software Assurance, there is still hope.
Extended support is an expensive operation. There are some other options, and Microsoft's policies in the SQL Server support space have become more user-friendly in recent years.
Given the rapid product development cycles that the SQL Server teams have pushed since , Microsoft is recommending that software vendors writing applications for SQL Server certify on a compatibility level , rather than a specific version of the software.
Support has also been aligned to this model, which alleviates the biggest concern around upgrading: Additionally, the Query Store feature that was introduced in SQL Server will allow administrators to easily track any queries that have regressed in performance. This mitigates much of the technical risk associated with upgrading. While the upgrade process is better technically Windows Server even supports in-place upgrading of cluster nodes from Windows Server to Windows Server , there are some financial- and vendor-related concerns around upgrading.
The financial component is that both SQL Server and Windows Server have changed their licensing models since to core-based licensing. On the Windows Server side, this has minimal impact -- until you get over 16 cores, at which point you can incur higher costs.
If you have a 2-socket, core server, for example, your Windows Server licenses would cost roughly 50 percent more. This means you will really need to justify running higher core-count servers. The vendor-related concerns around upgrading are the biggest limiter I see in the field. Small independent software vendors ISVs frequently don't have the resources to test their applications around new versions of SQL Server or Windows Server, or they wait until well after the latest version is released to initiate testing.
You have few options in this scenario and none of them are good. You can pressure the ISV, assuming it is still in business, to certify on the version you would like to use.
Your organization should have leverage, since most ISVs charge an annual support fee to their customers. You can also "go rogue" and perform the upgrade without vendor support. Of course, you can't see all the SQL code or Windows libraries that may be in the compiled vendor code, so this option still carries some risks and probably isn't a good strategy for mission-critical applications. The final approach is just to stay in place.
However, this option is fraught with security and audit risks. With the rapid pace of technical development, having year-old software running critical parts of your enterprise is dangerous and concerning.
It is a challenge to explain to business leaders why they need to spend a decent chunk of money just to get on supported versions of software that may not provide significant business value. But in order protect your customers' and your company's data, you must spend money. This is a good time to recommend moving to Platform as a Service PaaS offerings that remove the upgrade management from your responsibilities.
From now on, I don't want to see any of you deploying that version. Focus on , or Yes, we support in production. But you need to reach out to us 1st.
However, he promises not to talk about licences unless someone asks. If you are coming to the meeting please let Shane know by sending an email to coughlanfsfeurope. org. Shane Coughlan, FTF Coordinator at FSFE, will participate in the 'Driving innovation with Open Desktop Technologies' at Akademy 2008 on Tuesday, 12 August 2008. Shane will also be available around the conference during the rest of the 12th and 13th along with Armijn Hemel from GPL-violations.