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SQL Server 2005 Support Ends: What Are Your Enterprise Options?

11 Apr 2016 by Jessica Hall

While some things endure a long time, others grow outdated quickly — but nothing lasts forever. Smartphone apps change within months to accommodate bug fixes and more. Software can last for years, as the lifecycles of Windows XP and Microsoft Windows Server 2003 show. And on April 12, 2016, support for SQL Server 2005 retired after 10 years. In the past decade, the database industry has transformed for the better.

Improved features make applications easier to manage and scale. Plus, not getting patches for bugs or having the option to contact Microsoft after support ends can potentially cause issues.

“Compliance problems can also be a result for organizations in financial services and other industries where regulations require the use of supported software,” said David Mayer, vice president of product management for software with Insight, in this recent CIO article.

Ask these critical questions.

There are many factors that your organization will need to consider as you make the transition from SQL 2005 to SQL 2014 or Azure SQL Database; however, these four questions are the most critical:

  1. Do all of the applications installed on the server and utilizing SQL Server 2005 support the target version? Ensuring that legacy applications are supported by the latest version is an extremely important first step.
  2. Is the hardware and operating system (OS) compatible with SQL Server 2014 or Azure SQL Database? Review this comprehensive list for SQL Server 2014 provided by Microsoft.
  3. What risks are associated with the upgrade, and what steps do you need to take to mitigate them? For instance, upgrading a highly available system requires additional planning to avoid downtime. Similarly, certain types of SQL Server implementations, such as clusters and mirrors, require special attention when upgrading.
  4. Did you test upgrade scenarios in non-production environments before finalizing plans and decisions? Not only should the upgrade procedure be tested, but the applications should be submitted to a test cycle to verify that it’s completely functional.

Consider the selection of servers.

Your organization will need enough time to develop flawless migration plans if its strategy is to move off an old, trusty operating system to a new one. Thorough planning will help you carefully execute the migration, ensuring all of your systems function properly after the upgrade. But if you haven’t planned for the end of support for SQL Server 2005, the cloud-based Azure SQL Database is a no-sweat, just-a-few-minutes alternative.

“Large enterprises have to enable their users to analyze a large amount of data quickly,” says Raheel Retiwalla, principal architect at BlueMetal, an Insight company. Employees can’t afford to wait hours — or even days — while reports run.

Migrating from a past version of SQL Server to SQL Server 2014 or 2016 will be simple. However, one thing that enterprise companies should consider is how the transition can positively affect applications. “You need to ask yourself, ‘How can I start using SQL Server’s capabilities to ensure my application is evolving to meet the needs of my customers?’” suggests Retiwalla.

With SQL Server 2014, enterprise organizations can provide fast, scalable solutions and process transactions quickly. “SQL Server 2014 provides significant improvements in line-of-business and business intelligence capabilities,” Retiwalla adds.

Keep in mind Microsoft plans to release new versions of SQL Server every two years — and support for your current version will end sooner than you think. While you’re upgrading, does it make sense to get the latest version?

The advantages and enhancements that SQL Server 2016 offers can improve business performance and deliver greater value and a better experience to your end users if you allow your applications to evolve with the technology. ”That’s where Insight and BlueMetal can help,” Retiwalla says.

SQL Server 2016 offers greater advantages.

“SQL Server 2016 adds significantly more capabilities, ensuring enterprises can build modern applications,” says Retiwalla. An application’s time to market is not only fast, but the process is easy. “Capabilities such as securing data at rest and in motion, exceptionally strong mobile business intelligence and consistent experience among on-premise, private cloud or Azure SQL allow enterprises to undertake information-led digital transformation initiatives,” Retiwalla explains.

SQL Server 2016 offers three impactful benefits.

SQL Server 2016 provides the added advantages of three important things:

  1. Microsoft’s SQL language, TSQL, introduces a capability called PolyBase, which allows database and application developers to query data in Hadoop big data store using TSQL.
  2. Applications, business intelligence capabilities and reports can be delivered in a responsive fashion on mobile devices with mobile virtual desktop infrastructure.
  3. With the R language directly integrated into SQL Server 2016, developers can completely and immediately analyze data within SQL Server using R.

The technology is only available as a release candidate right now, but SQL Server 2016 will be offered to all later this year.

Combine cloud and on-premise data.

Having completed a significant amount of work in the Internet of Things (IoT) space, BlueMetal is also experienced in bringing data from the cloud and marrying it with on-premise data. In leveraging SQL Server, Retiwalla says, “We helped one client transform how they understand data from networks in real time.”

See the silver lining of new or updated servers.

While the necessary migration is the end of an era with SQL Server 2005, it’s an opportunity to give new value to your business.

If this sounds like a lot, Insight can help you select, deploy and support your technology needs. With help from Insight’s Microsoft team, you can maximize business performance.