SQL Server 2005 is 10 years old now, do you celebrate?
Some people say time flies, and it feels like yesterday when you realize the month of November 2015 marks the tenth year since SQL Server 2005 release to manufacturing. Quite a milestone, at least from the human prospective, it seems sure so. And this is true for so many reasons, SQL Server 2005 was definitely a landmark offering of a relation data management engine bundled with more not less significant components that saw light for the first time in it as SSAS, SSRS, SSIS and too many others to mention in a blog post.
So great in fact, I suspect those who conduct their day-to-day business with SQL Server 2005 may feel lucky they happened to have one of the best database platforms. Let me pause here and state that my post is to somewhat mar their happiness. I would not like you though leaving this page yet because I really want to come with only good intentions and make those who stay behind alerted. If I will not sound convincing, drop me a line and we can have the discussion going.
So agree or not, a 10 year time span, especially for IT is a lot! To some it may mean innovation, to others wins or losses, but I would say simply it is a lot of changes, changes everywhere: in server and user hardware, the Operating System, Internet, the peripheral software, and how we even conduct the business, but and also on the human front – we are getting more seasoned professionals. So change is inevitable, and some people say change is good.
For these very reasons the End of Support (EoS) exists for all the software vendors. It is otherwise not cheap or sometimes not even possible to change things. Speaking of the databases, the hardware became stronger, and cheaper at the same time, the amounts of data grew exponentially and the means of collecting and storing it became more affordable. And the business wants to process it all. So the workloads have changed.
So precisely, on April 12, 2016 SQL Server 2005 is retiring. While there is still time left, perhaps now is the time to start planning the upgrade.
Besides, I have always tried to understand why do IT shops stay behind on software. And I tried to study this phenomenon. Luckily, I have had access to a sheer number of clients and happened to have conversations regularly that resulted in me getting the following reply often “my existing software continues to do well what it has always used to”. Indeed, having the one time SQL Server license paid, and the development costs spread across so many years of SQL Server production support now means pure ROI. So even though SQL Server 2005 has been succeeded by three newer builds it may sound like there is no compelling reasons to upgrade. Or not to upgrade just yet. Is it so not tempting or? Let’s see…
Well, my argument to these replies was – you may never then find the time to upgrade until it is too late. And there are plenty of examples.
Another composite in the non-upgrade disaster recipe is the bound to die hardware:
How do we typically upgrade in the RDBMS world? It is by moving the data to newer and bigger machines, the so called scale up method. Stay on the old machine and only imagine what kind of nasty surprises a 10 years old hardware can present you with. I have already seen several, from failed RAID drive controllers and a motherboard chip to power supplies. Even if the instance is clustered it leaves you out with no High Availability for perhaps longer than your SLA permits or may require to migrate to a different machine all together due to lack of support or spare parts which rarely is trivial. Even if you have all the spare parts in abundance, look at the business side, did it grow? If yes, most likely the robustness, storage and the elasticity do not satisfy your users anymore.
For those who need stronger reasons, I am really worried about the security, as it happens, by the time a vendor winds down active vulnerability assessments the hackers already studied the weak points in the old software well enough, so guess what, they probably know where to hit you. For example, refer yourself to a recent security breach in the WalMart Canada Photo Center.
So, if the prospects of breaching your mission critical system and failing hardware is not enough incentive to plan the upgrade, another often overlooked factor remains – your probably as old as SQL Server ally Operating System (OS). Having an OS without support, too is a risky mix. A simple thing as a USB stick inserted by your operational staff member can wreak a lot of havoc. It is like pay me now or pay me later saying. If you choose to pay later, make sure you can afford the interest. Let’s look at what happened at Paris’ second largest airport – Orly. It operated a critical piece of their software on an outdated OS. Yes, perhaps it was working well a long time, but the human factor is always there. Are you sure your software veterans are always available?
Don’t delay the upgrade, SQL Server 2014 offers a plethora of productivity features, safety, usable components, offers extreme high availability, integration with Azure, not to mention its flexible workload data engine. SQL Server 2014 is on Service Pack 1 now which means for most companies full “certification”. Simply take advantage of these facts to easily convince the stakeholders. The time is running out.
The upgrade process (I went through a few) is a smooth sailing, perhaps my best experience upgrading to date. Besides, Microsoft has put a web page dedicated to upgrading both the SQL Server and Operating System together filled with useful resources helping conducting such a smooth upgrade process https://www.microsoft.com/en-ca/server-cloud/products/sql-server-2005/
Don’t celebrate – upgrade.