Windows Server 2008, along with SQL Server 2008 and 2008 R2 has helped organizations by supporting an expanding range of transaction processing, business intelligence, and applications. These Relational Database Management System (RDBMS) have helped enterprises in multiple ways including reduced maintenance costs, better security features, enhanced performance and lower cost of ownership. In July 2014, when Microsoft announced SQL Server 2008 end of support, the end date still seemed a happy four years away.

However, the time has sped, and Microsoft’s extended support end date is looming on the horizon. On July 9 this year, SQL Server 2008 and 2008 R2 will stop being supported which can spell bad news to enterprises that have put off their migration plans for various reasons. SQL Server 2008 end of support can be defined as the end of patches or security updates, which could cause severe issues with compliance and security, not to mention the possibility of compromised customer applications.

What does “End of Support” mean for SQL Server 2008 and 2008 R2?

SQL Server 2008 End of Support                                   Figure 1 – SQL 2008 End of Support –

Why delay the inevitable?

One of the primary reasons for the delay in migration could involve the decisions required to maximize the business benefits without enhancing costs and minimizing operational disruptions.  As a generic rule, when it comes to migration, enterprises find it a daunting task to look at the standardized processes, and server configurations that were implemented back then, and see the best way to move forward. Migrating legacy applications running on a Window Server or managing humungous data stored in SQL Server 2008 and 2008 R2 are daunting for enterprises that already have standardized processes in place.

Turning `end of support’ to your advantage

But the good news is, the SQL Server 2008 end of support decision by Microsoft can be the compelling reason to migrate and become the catalyst for change to compete and move ahead in a constantly shifting economic and business environment.

Security updates rated “critical” protect against vulnerabilities.

SQL Server 2008 End of Support

For example, data is estimated to grow to 44ZB by the year 2020. Security updates are mission-critical, and statistics indicate that enterprises lose nearly 20% of customers during a security breach. Keeping these statistics in mind and drilling down to specific requirements, enterprises are sure to benefit from innovations and modernization with cloud technologies.

Why is it time to migrate your SQL Server 2008 to the latest servers?

Three compelling reasons, notwithstanding the end of support cause, to migrate workloads from Microsoft server to the cloud are:

  1. Innovation – enough has already been said about the cloud and its advantages, but Azure offers fully-managed services such as Azure SQL Database, Azure App Service, and Azure IaaS, that truly help with business transformation and innovation.
  2. Cost benefits are undeniable – If numbers make sense, Microsoft says that an enterprise can save up to $750,000 when migrating one hundred servers to Azure.
  3. Security can be a big advantage with Azure’s sophisticated security features and maximum-security certifications.

What are the SQL Server 2008 End of Support options for enterprises?

Enterprises comfortable with on-premise servers and databases must acknowledge the fact that over 80 percent of enterprises are adopting cloud first strategies. There is enough data and proof that these companies outrun their competition by significant savings in operational costs.

  • Migrate to Azure

The first option is to upgrade to a newer version that would give the most updated features and security. One can choose to upgrade to the on-premise version or the cloud version of Azure. If Azure is your destination, you can migrate apps running on 2008/2008 R2 as is – and get three more years of security updates for free. This buys you more time to work on upgrading or modernizing your applications in the cloud.

  • Upgrade On-Premises

The second option is to run the current operating system and continue to receive security updates using a Software Assurance or Enterprise Subscription agreement. Many apps are tied to data, so that you will get three years of free extended security updates for SQL Server 2008/2008 R2 running in Azure Virtual Machines (VMs). Or, even better, migrate to Azure SQL Database Managed Instance for a version-free option that will make this your last end-of-support transition.

It’s suggested to upgrade to the most current versions of Windows Server and SQL Server. If you cannot meet the deadline, you can buy Extended Security Updates to keep the remaining servers protected until you get them upgraded.

The end-of-support date is an excellent time to re-evaluate existing servers and databases.  Whether it is re-hosting, refactoring, designing or rebuilding, business needs should motivate the reason. A good software services provider that offers a low-risk migration and application modernization service to ensure business continuity and create business value will evaluate and leverage existing legacy applications for the move to the cloud while optimizing the cost for infrastructure, applications, and services.

  • Azure Hybrid Option

The third option is to migrate existing SQL Server 2008 and 2008 R2 to Azure using the Azure hybrid option. You can run familiar SQL Server in Azure and gain cloud agility with Windows Server containers. You could extend your datacenter to Azure for unique hybrid scenarios with Azure Active Directory, cloud storage, and more.

Also, Azure offers Extended Security Updates for Windows Server 2008 and 2008 R2 for no additional cost. You could use existing licenses to save with the Azure Hybrid Benefit and Azure Reserved Instances.

Process for migration

  1. Assessment of existing applications, infrastructure, and databases.
  2. Followed by a sound business case for migration
  3. Plan the migration process
  4. Deploy infrastructure and migrate workloads
  5. Decommission on-premise workloads
  6. Optimize with cost management to monitor cloud usage
  7. Set up data protection, including backup and disaster recovery
  8. Incorporate security management and monitoring
  9. Integrate health and performance monitoring

WinWire Recommendation:

To summarize, SQL Server 2008 end of support can be smooth or challenging depending on the assessment, implementation, and execution. WinWire, a Gold partner for Microsoft Azure Cloud Platform has enabled several enterprises to make a smooth and swift cloud transition. Our team develops your cloud roadmap that helps manage complex systems and applications within a single system of intelligence. From consulting services to implementation and support, we are with you at every step of your cloud lifecycle.

We encourage you to contact us and our team of experts will help you on your journey to discover the real value that SQL Server 2017 can bring to your enterprise.

We have seen migrations last from less than three months to nearly a year. Most of the time is spent in consulting, planning, data replication, and testing. Start the process early to ensure a smooth transition with minimal disruption to existing operations.