Technology moves fast, so much so that the newest versions of software often become out of date in a matter of a few years. Older versions of Microsoft products can be daunting to manage from a support and licensing perspective. While 2008 versions of Microsoft products were innovative and new at the time, some of these products are now nearing the end of their support life. SQL Server 2008 is now several versions back so many clients are wondering what to do for their upgrades. Other SQL Server customers who still retain databases on the 2008 version may not even have decided on their precise upgrade plans. Here’s the latest news from Microsoft which may assist with decisions regarding SQL Server 2008.
Licensing and support for SQL Server 2008 was originally intended to last 10 years. We are now into that end-of-life support so what are the options for organizations still running databases on this now decade-old version?
SQL Server 2008 brought a number of new innovations to the marketplace for databases. These new features were incredibly useful for database development at the time, so much so that many businesses have not needed to upgrade some of their databases to the newest versions. In fact, some of these clients still on the 2008 platform may not feel there is an immediate need to upgrade their databases. There may be other factors involved with such a decision such as budgetary concerns. Organizations may still be trying to determine how to upgrade their databases to the latest SQL server platform and may need more time to make all the decisions necessary.
However, Microsoft does intend for support of SQL Server 2008 to end. This means that software and security updates will no longer be available after the support life for this product ends. While organizations are not necessarily caught flat-footed with this reality, actually completing the upgrades before the end of licensing support may well prove daunting to some organizations.
Originally, Microsoft planned to deal with end-of-life support issues regarding products such as SQL Server 2008 with a Premium Assurance Program which was implemented last year. This program was intended to add six years of support licensing to the current ten-year limit. The intention was to provide continued compliance and security to existing databases though at an increased cost of five percent which would have maxed out at twelve percent over current licensing costs.
Previously Existing Options
But Microsoft has made a more recent change that affects even this Premium Assurance Program with a recent announcement. Previously, there were several options available for organizations choosing to continue using this older version of the SQL server platform. Options for SQL Server 2008 customers who wanted to remain on this version ranged from simply accepting that there would be no future security updates. The downside of this option is that databases may no longer be compliant in various industry requirements.
Another available option has been to simply upgrade to a newer version of SQL though at some costs unless an organization already used a product assurance program. But with this option, businesses choosing to upgrade the 2008 version might face additional costs with licensing or further upgrade support while not being entirely prepared for such a change for some databases.
The last option for current business and organizational clients of SQL Server 2008 has been to purchase a custom support license which can also be costly. This third option requires that companies provide a migration plan of some sort to Microsoft rather than keeping open-ended support available for an indeterminate amount of time when newer versions provide better solutions.
The Latest Option: Cloud Migration with Free Security Support
Since there are any number of detrimental effects from remaining on the 2008 SQL version, Microsoft has chosen to offer yet another option which many businesses may find extremely helpful. The recent announcement by Microsoft has been to allow product platforms like SQL Server 2008 to be migrated to Azure Cloud Services. Essentially, Microsoft is offering organizations the opportunity to remain under software support for the 2008 version until 2022 if the workload is migrated to Azure Cloud Services. The actual security support and updates are free of charge on the cloud platform and does not require that a company provide a migration or upgrade plan.
The opportunity is quite useful for many businesses and organizations as this even allows them to use Azure stack which is Microsoft’s version of the on-premise cloud system. This option is quite a flexible and useful offer for many businesses and a way for them to move into cloud computing even with this older SQL version. Microsoft is even allowing those customers who purchased the Premium Assurance Program to migrate into the Azure cloud platform on a grandfathered basis since this plan will be discontinued.
Now corporate and organizational customer can take advantage of Azure Cloud Services for older databases. All Azure features will be available that are relevant to SQL Server 2008. Security across the environment is consistent and provides telemetry for any intrusions. A myriad of backup features are additionally available which can also cut costs as customers look to upgrade these databases to newer versions. Workloads can be more easily managed and even scaled over the next several years while migration planning can continue.
Additionally, the hardware for currently hosted SQL Server 2008 databases may be aging out of their lifecycles. Consequently, hardware replacement will create higher costs for new equipment, continued security and other business consistency concerns. Azure provides a less expensive way to maintain aging databases until they can be migrated to newer platform versions. Instead of struggling along with both hardware and software concerns, businesses now have the option of implementing Azure versions of their SQL databases where the hardware is no longer a concern since the cloud service keeps all of the instances up-to-date and secured. Business consistency is also addressed when migrating to Azure for this additional time period of support. Azure provides stable backup systems and support for additional security compliance needs.
With all the additional benefits of Azure cloud services, SQL Server 2008 customers will find that implementing a workload migration to this new option can be highly beneficial as their decisions about upgrades are made over the next several years. Since the security support will remain free, there is an important savings already built into using Azure cloud services to host these older databases. Azure provides business consistency with less concern for hardware changes as well as a high level of cloud-based features which can be beneficial in assisting with upgrades to newer database platforms. Companies and organizations can easily find that their migration concerns are eased by shifting SQL Server 2008 workloads into the Azure cloud. Since Microsoft’s cloud services through Azure are proven to already cut costs, Microsoft has generously offered a highly beneficial means of retaining security support for several years to come, one which is far less expensive compared to other immediate options and concerns.
If you are currently running an outdated version of Microsoft SQL Server and want to explore options, you don’t want to leave anything to chance. Contact the Microsoft licensing experts at Royal Discount – your source for all things MS SQL.