SQL Server 2008 has been around for over a decade — an eon in technology years.

The relational database management system has undergone a massive transformation since its initial release. But all good things must come to an end. With the advent of SQL Server 2019, Microsoft is phasing out support for the 2008 version.

Here’s how to prepare your business for SQL Server 2008 end of life, including implications, deadlines, migration options and training courses to guide your organization during the transition.

What You Need to Know About the SQL Server 2008 End of Life Timeline

Microsoft’s Lifecycle Policy offers consistent, predictable guidelines for support availability through the life of various Microsoft products.

Mainstream support for SQL Server 2008 formally ended July 8, 2014. Microsoft will offer extended support until July 9, 2019.

Do You Need to Update Your SQL Server?

The first question many organizations ask is, “Can we utilize SQL Server 2008 without Microsoft support?”

Here are potential implications for SQL Server 2008 users operating past the technology’s end of life:

  • Security: Microsoft will no longer issue security updates for SQL Server 2008, leaving your organization vulnerable to data breach risks. While firewalls and antivirus provide preliminary protection, they aren’t enough to protect companies hosting sensitive data.
  • Customer loss: The stakes are high — many customers won’t work with companies who experience data breaches, and it can be hard to restore reputation after a security incident. Data breaches are more prevalent than many organizations realize. A Cisco security report found that 31 percent of organizations have experienced cyberattacks on operational technology infrastructure.
  • Compliance: Organizations must comply with regulatory standards. Regulatory bodies like the PCI Security Standards Council require any organization that accepts credit card transactions to utilize supported platforms.

How to Transition From SQL Server 2008

While it seems daunting, SQL Server 2008 end of life is a great business opportunity to upgrade your application.

Microsoft offers several phased options and migration support to transition securely away from SQL Server 2008.

Upgrade SQL Server On-Premises

The first option is to upgrade your servers to SQL Server 2017 or 2019. You’ll get extended security updates to cover the workloads you need while you upgrade.

It’s a good solution if you need to keep applications and data on-premises. Plus, there’s often no extra licensing cost via Software Assurance.

Migrate to Azure

Migrating SQL Server to Azure is the only option that allows you to maintain your existing 2008 version without paying for extended support.

Microsoft will offer Extended Security Updates in Azure for SQL Server 2008 and 2008 R2 through 2022 for all servers migrated to Azure. You can also rehost workloads in Azure at no additional application code charge.

This option gives you time to plan your future path, including upgrading to a newer version of SQL Server as well as the ability to utilize platform and data services available in Azure.

Pay for Extended Support

You can also pay for extended security support. Typically the last resort, it’s a short-term, expensive option — costs are exponentially higher than upgrading or migrating SQL Server.

Tips for Migrating From SQL Server 2008

Here are a few migration tips to keep in mind before, during and after your migration or upgrade.

Evaluate Current Applications Before Migrating

Before moving forward with a migration or upgrade, identify all existing workloads and applications in your infrastructure. It’s an extensive process, but critical to prepare for migration.

The inventory should cover all physical and virtual servers in your environment, including metadata, performance metrics and profile information to build your migration plan.

Missed applications and workloads can become headaches down the road, so you’ll want to make sure your inventory is comprehensive and up-to-date.

This step helps you analyze each workload to determine the best migration path. You’ll be able to identify dependencies and communication between servers ahead of the migration to reduce risk and ensure a seamless transition.

Use Existing Licenses to Save on Azure Virtual Machines

Migrating SQL Server 2008 to the cloud doesn’t have to be a colossal investment. You can migrate workloads to Azure with your on-premises licenses, saving money and resources.

The Azure Hybrid Benefit helps organizations maximize the value of current licensing investments and accelerate cloud migration.

The benefit works with Windows Server Datacenter and Standard edition licenses. Depending on the edition, you can convert or reuse your licenses to run SQL Server in Azure and pay a lower base compute rate.

Optimize and Manage Your New Environment to See Cost Benefits

Improper resource management prevents many organizations from realizing the full cost benefits of the cloud. If you do migrate to Azure, it’s imperative to manage your resource usage in the cloud.

Azure’s Cost Management and Azure Advisor tools can help you better manage your cloud resources.

Azure Advisor provides personalized recommendations within the Azure portal to optimize availability, performance and cost.

Cost Management helps manage Azure spend. The tools include reports on cost and usage, alerts for managing cloud budgets and recommendations to eliminate idle cloud resources and pay for exactly what you’re using.

Comprehensive Microsoft SQL Server Training

Modern businesses depend on SQL for insight into their data. Whether you’re upgrading your SQL Server 2008 environment or migrating to Azure, SQL Server training helps IT professionals of all skill levels harness the power of SQL Server within their organization.

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