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Microsoft Pulls Plug on SQL Server 2005 Support

Tuesday marked the end of SQL Server 2005's "extended support" phase, meaning Microsoft's 10-year-old database server will no longer get patch support from the company.

With the end of support, servers continue to function. However, Microsoft doesn't issue patches and security fixes for them, representing potential security and compliance problems for organizations. Microsoft warned the end was coming a year ago.

The one exception to the end-of-support rule is buying a "custom support" contract from Microsoft. They're a costly add-on, lasting up to three years and offering workarounds rather than true fixes. However, the contracting organization has to have a migration plan in place in order to get the deal, according to a "Migrating from SQL Server 2005" Directions on Microsoft publication (PDF, freely accessible via this sign-up page).

Most organizations have either fully migrated (35 percent) or have partially migrated (36 percent) from SQL Server 2005, according to a February Spiceworks survey (PDF) commissioned by Microsoft. Spiceworks pulled this information together from 516 surveys of IT decision makers.

Respondents in the Spiceworks study mostly took one month (34 percent) or two to three months (34 percent) to move to a newer relational database management system instance, although 23 percent needed four to five months to make the move. Most organizations were migrating 10 or fewer SQL Server 2005 instances.

The top migration targets, according to the survey, were SQL Server 2014 (42 percent), SQL Server 2012 (39 percent) and SQL Server 2008 R2 (16 percent). Respondents favored moving to SQL Server instances on a virtual machine (52 percent). Of the 36 percent that moved to a new SQL Server instance on physical hardware, most (59 percent) bought new hardware for the purpose. Just 25 percent performed an "in-place" upgrade. Just 9 percent used a cloud-hosted SQL instance for the migration, per the survey.

These migration options are nicely explained in the Directions on Microsoft publication. Some of the pressure is taken off because of the strong backward compatibility of Microsoft's SQL Server products, the publication explained.

"Unlike some other server products, SQL Server does not require databases and server software to be on the same version," the publication states. For instance, it's possible to run SQL Server 2012 and support older SQL Server database versions simultaneously as well, according to the publication. In general, the Directions on Microsoft publication favors moves to SQL Server 2014 to take advantage of its longer product lifecycle.

Microsoft has not released its emerging SQL Server 2016 product yet, although it's targeted for release in the first half of this year. SQL Server 2016 will have the longest support period of those server products. The support is thought to end sometime in 2024, making it a good bet for SQL Server 2005 migrations. However, the Directions on Microsoft article noted that many organizations might not have the time to wait for SQL Server 2016's arrival.

In addition to time limitations, IT pros have application compatibility issues to determine. They will have to figure out if the version of SQL Server they're considering as a migration target will support the applications they want to run, according to Directions on Microsoft.

In general, IT pros need to determine the database destination. Next, they'll have to determine the SQL Server target version for the migration. Lastly, they'll have to figure out whether to upgrade or migrate the databases. They can use some of the free tools Microsoft provides to that end.

In addition, Microsoft provides a collection of materials for organizations that are still considering making the move from SQL Server 2005. They can be accessed at this page.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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