SQL Server 2008/R2 Support Is Nearly Over. Is Your Organization Ready?

Save money and reduce risk by planning your migration today.

We bet you already know that Microsoft is ending support for SQL Server 2008/R2 on July 9, 2019. But if you haven’t made the switch to a new version yet, you’re not alone. Many organizations still need to upgrade their current implementation of SQL to a new version (on-premises or Azure) or even better, to an SQL Managed Instance on Azure. And if you’re just starting to consider a plan for the future of your applications and databases, we know there’s a lot to consider.

Read on for our insights on the questions and issues we hear most often from clients when it comes to their SQL upgrade/migration plan. Have a question you don’t see addressed here? For a limited time, we’re pleased to offer a free 20-minute consultation with one of our SQL experts. As a Gold Microsoft Partner with significant experience and expertise in infrastructure, application development, data analytics, and data management, we’re confident we can provide guidance in nearly every SQL scenario out there. Read our thoughts here, or click right through to set up a call with one of our experts.

Questions and Answers


Q: What does the end of support mean?
A: Microsoft Lifecycle Policy offers 10 years of support for Business and Developer products such as SQL Server and Windows Server. After the end of the Extended Support period, Microsoft will no longer release patches or security updates, which may cause security and compliance issues and expose customers’ applications and business to serious security risks.

Q: How do I start planning for the end of SQL Server 2008/R2?
A: The first step is to assess the existing environment to come up with migration options. To do this, you need a clear understanding of your current architecture and SQL instances and your future plans and the business context and priorities that drive them. It’s also important to understand compatibility issues you may face, and the pros and cons of potential solutions. This is where a partner such as T4G can be helpful. We offer a three-day assessment that takes an honest look at your current state and provides a detailed rationale and clear path to migration/upgrade.

Q: What if I’m unable to transition my workloads before the end of support?
A: If you have concerns about your ability to transition before July, we recommend finding a qualified partner to help you upgrade to the latest version and reduce security risk. However, if the transition is not possible, you can leverage Microsoft offers design to help you protect the data and applications during the End of Support Transition:

  • Customers who migrate workloads to Azure virtual machines will have access to Extended Security Updates for both SQL Server and Windows Server 2008 and 2008 R2 for three years after the End of Support deadlines, included at no additional charge over the standard VM pricing.
  • Customers running Windows Server or SQL Server under licenses with active Software Assurance or Subscription licenses under an Enterprise Agreement enrollment are eligible to purchase Extended Security Updates annually for three years after End of Support. Customers can purchase Extended Security Updates for only the servers they need to cover.

Q: How do I budget for this end of support?
A: There are three categories of costs you need to consider when setting your budget for SQL Server migration.

  1. Software License and Infrastructure Costs – License costs are applicable to you if you plan to keep SQL workloads in your datacenter. If you are already in Azure, you’ll have to account for Azure SQL Platform consumption costs instead of licensing costs.
  2. Migration Costs – This is determined by a number of different factors, such as the number of servers you have to migrate, the number of databases, and the complexity and age of your applications. Complexity and age of your applications are especially important, as these can lead to more integration or application development work to address inter-dependencies and resolve compatibility issues.
  3. Ongoing Support Costs – Although moving to the cloud can cost less because you aren’t managing hardware and all the fun things that go along with it, there’s still support to be considered. Can your internal team do that work or do you need someone need help you future support needs?


Support and Security

Q: What is the cost of Extended Security Updates?
A: In Azure – Customers running Windows Server or SQL Server 2008 and 2008 R2 in an Azure virtual machine will get Extended Security Updates for no additional charges above standard VM rates. On-premises – Customers with active Software Assurance or subscription licenses can purchase Extended Security Updates for 75% of the full license cost annually. You pay for only the servers they need to cover, so they can reduce costs each year as they upgrade parts of their environment.

Q: What is included in Extended Security Updates?
A: For SQL Server 2008 and 2008 R2 Extended Security Updates include the provision of Security Updates, and Bulletins rated critical for a maximum of three years after July 9, 2019.
For Windows Server 2008 and 2008 R2 Extended Security Updates include the provision of Security Updates and Bulletins rated critical and essential, for a maximum of three years after January 14, 2020.

Q: Is SQL Server 2008R2 Express edition covered by Extended Security Updates?
A: No. However, you can move their workloads to Azure and get the Extended Security Updates for no additional cost.

Q: Can I leverage Extended Security updates for SQL 2005 or Windows Server 2003?
A: No. Although we recommend upgrading to the latest version, you could upgrade to 2008 or 2008R2 to take advantage of this offer.

Q: Is the technical support included in the Extended Security Offer?
A: No, but you can use your existing support contracts with Microsoft or use a qualified managed services team to provide custom support options to provide ongoing support for the legacy platform and supported applications.


Migration Planning

Q: How do I approach this upgrade if my internal team doesn’t have the skills?
A: Typical migration projects are made up of several phases like assessment, planning, upgrade and post-upgrade activities, like ongoing support, management, and governance. We can help you build knowledge for any of these phases and work with your team or take the lead to deliver the upgrade.

Q: How do I start to discover and inventory my 2008 environment?
A: With cloud migration assessment tools from Azure, you’ll have a complete inventory of servers with metadata for each – including profile information and performance metrics –allowing you assess the impact of the end of support on your organization and to build your migration plan. Additionally, the Microsoft Assessment & Planning (MAP) Toolkit has been updated throughout the years for several different types of SQL and application migrations with new capabilities to support later releases of Windows and application software.

Q: I have completed an inventory of all my SQL assets. Where do I go from here?
A: This data obtained from the inventory can now be used as input into the assessment phase. In this second phase, the goals are to identify:

  • The migration blockers of objects or processes that stop the migration from moving forward
  • Breaking changes that will not stop the migration, but the workload will need to be fixed post-migration to be functional
  • Features available to leverage in the new version or in Azure that when utilized can maximize the benefit of migrating to Azure services
  • An estimate of the time and processes required to rectify any issues.

If you need extra help with the assessment phase, we’re be happy to tell you about our three day assessment engagement offering.

Q: My organization has a lot of integration points and data sources or outputs that need to be addressed. How do I know I have everything covered?
A: A good understanding of the application landscape and total assets inventory is essential. You can start by using information collected by cloud migration tools to map your servers to represent your on-premises applications, such as Microsoft’s native tools. This allows you to identify dependencies or communication between servers so you can include all necessary application components in your cloud migration plan—helping reduce risks and ensure a smooth migration. Then group your servers logically to represent the applications and select the best cloud migration strategy for each application based on its requirements and migration objectives.

Q: After building my new SQL environment, I will need to migrate applications, how do I handle this without breaking the application.
A: One of the significant phases of migrating any SQL environment is to consider potential issues like platform compatibility with existing systems and applications. Prior to any migration, we can use tools and through testing to identify potential compatibility issues and address them prior to application migration.

Q: Should I buy the expensive support from Microsoft and put off upgrading?
A: The extended support offered by Microsoft has a limited lifetime and eventually an upgrade will need to take place. So you’re really just spending more money now to delay having to spend more money later. Instead of spending money on the extended support, we recommend using that money to initiate the planning phase of the migration.
Consider establishing the new platform and plan a phased migration to distribute the cost and better manage risk. End of support for SQL Server 2008/R2 means the end of regular security updates from Microsoft. With cyber attacks becoming more sophisticated and frequent, running apps and data on unsupported versions can create significant security and compliance risks. The 2008 family of products was great for its time, but we highly recommend upgrading to the most current versions for better performance, efficiency, and regular security updates.

Q: Does an upgrade mean I have to move to the cloud?  For one reason or another, our company isn’t interested in moving to the cloud.
A: No, you don’t have to move to the cloud. For apps and data that you want to keep running on-premises, we recommend that you upgrade to the latest version of SQL Server and Windows Server to get the most robust security and latest innovation. SQL Server 2017 and Windows Server 2016 are the new standards for performance and efficiency, and both include built-in security features to help you harden your platform. Now is also the time to consider refreshing your server infrastructure. Today’s servers and hyper-converged solutions can deliver essential security features, as well as dramatic increases in performance and cost efficiency.

Again, if you’re migrating from SQL 2008 on on-premises servers that need more time to upgrade, you will be able to purchase Extended Security Updates for three more years. This option is available to customers with Software Assurance or Subscription licenses under an Enterprise Agreement enrollment and can be purchased annually to cover only the servers that require the updates. It’s a great option to continue getting security updates while you upgrade or migrate to Azure.


Technical Concerns

Q: My workloads leverage SSRS, SSAS, and SSIS – can they be migrated to Azure?
A: Unfortunately, not all SQL Server components currently have an Azure data services equivalent.

  • SSRS currently has no direct cloud-based equivalent, but reports could be rewritten based around Microsoft Power BI. Alternatively, SSRS can be deployed using SQL Server on an Azure VM.
  • SSAS can be migrated to Azure Analysis Services which is mostly compatible with recent versions of SQL Server Analysis Services Enterprise Edition. Alternatively, SSAS can be deployed using SQL Server on an Azure VM.
  • SSIS packages can be invoked using stored procedures in Azure Data Factory. Alternatively, SSIS can be deployed using SQL Server on an Azure VM.

Q: How is my disaster recovery plan affected by migration to Azure SQL?
A: It is critical to understand high-availability and data protection options available in Azure based on disaster recovery requirements for the application workloads supported by the database and to understand RTO and RPO requirements. Implementing disaster recovery on Azure SQL Database requires a simple process to establish a database replica out-of-region for minimal cost, the geo-replication feature protecting your database and application against broader regional failures.

Q: Can I migrate my databases to Azure SQL Managed Instances?
A: Yes, migration to Azure SQL Database Managed Instance is an option for customers on SQL Server 2008 and SQL Server 2008 R2. Azure SQL Database Managed Instance provides the broadest SQL Server engine compatibility and native virtual network support, so you can migrate SQL Server databases to Managed Instance with few or no application code changes.

Q: All my SQL servers are virtualized on VMware platform. What are my migration options?
A: You can migrate workloads from a VMware-based virtual machine on-premises to Azure Virtual Machines using Azure Site Recovery or migrate databases to Azure Managed SQL instances.

Q: How would I know if an application currently running on Windows Server and SQL Server 2008 and 2008 R2 will run on Azure or on a newer version of Windows Server/SQL Server?
A: Apps running with or on SQL Server and Windows Server 2008 or 2008 R2 can be rehosted to Azure with no application code change. You should also assess your application using services like Azure Migrate and work with a trusted partner to evaluate application readiness.

Q: Should I consider Windows Server 2019?
A: SQL Server 2016 and SQL Server 2017 will be supported on Windows Server 2019. Earlier versions (SQL Server 2012 and SQL Server 2014) are not.

Q: My current SQL deployment used Windows Cluster Services and shared storage. How do I migrate my cluster to Azure?
A: Azure does not provide support for shared storage clustering. However, T4G will be able to provide you with guidance on other high availability options available for Azure SQL.

We know there’s a lot to consider when it comes up upgrading SQL Server 2008/R2. But it’s better to start planning now than to put it off. You’ll avoid higher maintenance costs down the road and bypass security and compliance risks by putting a plan in place today. And remember – we’re here to help.

For a limited time, T4G is offering a free 20 minute consultation with our experts to discuss the workloads you’re running on SQL Server 2008 and your options for Azure migration and/or on-premises upgrades. Learn More

Paul Bednarski

Paul is seasoned Systems Engineer with over 20 years of experience working with Microsoft SQL-based applications. He provides technical leadership and systems support management and consulting services with a focus on database technologies within the T4G Managed Services practice.