Saying Goodbye to an Old Friend and Planning Ahead

July 29, 2016

The End of an Era

Saying Goodbye is always a hard thing to do, especially your first "love." My first job as a developer was using SQL Server 2005 as the backend of a Helpdesk ticket system I wrote in VB.Net.  So it saddens me to say, that as of April 12, 2016, SQL Server 2005 is no longer supported by Microsoft! 

SQL Server 2005, codename "Yukon" was released in November of 2005.  This version was the first major overhaul of the SQL Engine.  All previous versions were built off the old Sybase kernels and code.  SQL Server 2005 was the first to be built on the .NET framework and the first new revision of how SQL Server engine functioned.  SQL Server 2005 introduced, among other things, XML data type, Common Language Runtime integration, and most importantly Dynamic Management Views (DMVs). SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS) brought a new method of administering and programming SQL server.  The new Graphic User Interface (GUI) based program was miles ahead of the old Microsoft Management Console (MMC) plugin, SQL Enterprise Manager.

SQL Server Support and Lifecycle

Microsoft typically provides two phases of support for SQL Server: 1) Mainstream Support, and 2) Extended Support.  Ideally, all of your SQL Servers should be in Mainstream Support which provides the most protection for your investment.  The Extended Support phase typically only provides security enhancements, not performance enhancements like the Mainstream Support phase.

Mainstream Support also allows you, the consumer, to contact Microsoft Support (depending on your licensing program) for their help in resolving your SQL Server problems.  Extended support means that when you call Microsoft, and only if you have purchased Software Assurance, a SQL Support Technician will help you diagnose your problem and provide you with guidance on how to resolve the issue you are having with SQL Server.  If you did not purchase Software Assurance with your license, then you can purchase support on a per incident basis.

The Microsoft Support Lifecycle FAQs page answers many common questions concerning the support lifecycle, including a nice chart detailing each phase and the types of support provided. (https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/lifecycle?wa=wsignin1.0#gp/lifePolicy)

SQL Support

So what does out of support really mean?  DBAs and companies can no longer call on Microsoft to help with or support a SQL Server 2005 Instance.  There will be no more security updates, product updates, new features or phone support from Microsoft.  Many companies will still run with this stalwart and inadvisably continue to use it until it dies!  SQL Server 2005 has proven over time to be a very stable system capable of doing a yeoman's job. But even the most stable software should be upgraded to a modern version without delay.

What is supported?

Of course, the next logical question would be:  What versions of SQL Server are supported by Microsoft?  Currently, there are only 3 versions of SQL Server that are considered in Mainstream Support:  SQL Server 2012SQL Server 2014 and SQL Server 2016.  That's it, 3 versions!! 

Where does SQL 2008 and 2008R2 fall into the Support Lifecycle?  When it comes to support, Microsoft considers those versions to be the same "release," so they follow the same lifecycle.  As of April of this year, both of these versions have been removed from Mainstream Support.  Extended Support for these servers will expire on 7/9/2019. 

Planning Ahead

So what does all this mean to me as an Enterprise User of SQL Server?  Because SQL Server is an investment in hardware, licensing and time, now is the time to start planning to replace those SQL 2005, 2008, 2008 R2 and possibly even 2012 servers you have on your network. With the release of SQL 2016 in June of 2016, I suspect there may not be any more Service Packs released for SQL Server 2012, which will in affect stop the support clock on that version.

Beginning the process now will not only give you plenty of time to procure the funds, but also plenty of time to determine real needs and determine the proper specifications. Referencing the list below, take note that SQL Server 2012 will be out of Mainstream Support next year!

So to recap, here is a list of SQL Server versions still under support:

  • SQL Server 2008 & 2008 R2
    • Extended Support ends 7/9/2019
  • SQL Server 2012
    • Extended Support ends 7/12/2022
    • Mainstream Support ends 7/11/2017
  • SQL Server 2014
    • Extended Support ends 7/9/2024
    • Mainstream Support ends 7/9/2019
  • SQL Server 2016
    • Extended Support ends 7/14/2026
    • Mainstream Support ends 7/13/2021

Knowing how long it could take to get capital expenditures approved and how expensive SQL Server can be, it's best to start budgeting to replace those outdated SQL machines now! 

New Features

We'd be remiss in leaving out the advantages of upgrading as well.  Below are some teasers and links, in addition to some of the most popular and useful enterprise features not available in SQL 2005 that you should be aware of: <>

  1. Columnstore indexes - http://www.sparkhound.com/learn/blog/columnstore-indexes-what-you-need-to-know-about-this-sql-2016-feature
  2. Transparent Data Encryption - http://www.sparkhound.com/learn/blog/enterprise-transparent-data-encryption-in-sql-server
  3. AlwaysOn Availability Groups - https://www.brentozar.com/sql/sql-server-alwayson-availability-groups/ 
  4. Resource Governor - http://www.sqltact.com/2011/10/resource-governor-clamps-down-on-greedy.html
  5. FileStream– https://www.simple-talk.com/sql/learn-sql-server/an-introduction-to-sql-server-filestream/

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