At SSG, our clients run many different versions of SQL Server, even as far back as 2008. This post is for them as well as anyone running SQL Server 2008 or 2012 and who need an answer to the question, “why migrate SQL Server?”
If you are still running SQL Server 2012, you don’t have much time until Microsoft no longer supports it. Microsoft provides mainstream support for a product for five years, during which time they add features and enhancements (along with bug fixes and security patches) to the product. After that, you typically get another five years of extended support. During this period, Microsoft only provides bug fixes and security patches. With SQL Server 2012, mainstream support ended four years ago (July 2017), and extended support ends July 2022.
This post, the first in a series covering several aspects of migration, isn’t about what you should migrate to, but, as the title suggests, why you should consider it. We’ll also address upgrade too, because the decision you need to make is: do you migrate (different platform), or upgrade (different version), or both?
There are many different reasons we would give as to why migrate SQL Server (or upgrade), but this post will only list a few and focus on the top reasons we see or have discussed with our clients. These are in no particular order.
End of Support
Depending on who you are, this is either a big deal, or it isn’t. The old adage “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” is still very alive and well in some places. For others, EOS is certainly a big deal because, after extended support ends, you won’t see any more bug fixes or security patches. With all the hacking and data stealing lately, we highly recommend you don’t run anything that you haven’t properly secured. Your cyber defenses are down and that makes you extremely vulnerable to threats and cyberattacks.
One of the reasons we hear occasionally for not migrating or upgrading is the cost. In our view, however, you can’t afford not to upgrade/migrate. We find, in many cases, it is more costly to maintain existing, aging environments than it is to upgrade or migrate.
Unless you are running super archaic hardware, did you know that you can get tremendous performance boosts and improvements just by upgrading to SQL Server 2016 or later? Microsoft made significant tremendous improvements and enhancements to SQL Server 2016 and later versions. These improvements help SQL Server take advantage of recent hardware architecture changes. If you don’t believe me, here is a video I did when I was at Microsoft with the one and only Bob Ward, along with Bob Dorr, which explain the how and why.
The “upgrade for the new features” reason is one you have heard a gazillion times, so I won’t spend too much time on this. But, it should be part of your considerations. Simply put, SQL Server 2016 introduced the Query Store, and that alone is worth upgrading for the ability to find query bottlenecks and performance differences caused by query plan changes. There’s a reason it is Azure SQL Database enables bit by default <wink>. And you can’t (or shouldn’t) ignore many of the security and other performance features from post-2012 versions. A quick internet search will show you all the goodness you’re missing.
I’ll wrap up with a word on the cloud, and this is one that we wish more companies and individuals would grok. With SQL Server 2012 coming to EOS, one of the targets you should consider is a cloud platform. Yes, I did say this isn’t a “what to migrate to” post, so let me explain why you should consider a cloud platform. There are many benefits, and I believe the biggest reasons include, but are not limited to, the opportunity to reduce on-premises infrastructure complexity, increase security, and reduce costs. More and more companies are moving to the cloud to reduce the cost of data management, and the security measures implemented by most cloud vendors are outstanding.
We could easily discuss many more items to consider around the topic of why migrate SQL Server. The goal is to touch on the top few and help you get the thought process started. And as always, we are here to help, even if only to discuss some of these reasons in more glorious detail.