Why Are You Still Using SQL Server 2005?

SQL Server

The year: 2005.

What was happening with the Brent Ozar Unlimited® crew?

I was working on the help desk for a small company while attending Fox Valley Tech College to earn my associate degree. I think I still wanted to go into programming at that point in time! I’d never been to a user group meeting or posted on a forum. I wasn’t even a runner!

Brent took his first full-time DBA gig at Southern Wine & Spirits. He worked on his first cluster and his first 1 TB+ database. He’d never written about Perfmon or attended a conference.

Kendra worked for a dot-com in Seattle. She spent a lot of time with 32-bit servers, automating installs, restores, and configuration of SQL Server for large environments.

The hottest phone of 2005?
The hottest phone of 2005?

Doug was working on a VB6 app for insurance adjusters. At home he had a smokin’ PC with a 1.0 GHz AMD Athlon and a 19” CRT monitor. He and his wife didn’t have kids yet, and he surprised her with a trip to Venice for Christmas.

Jeremiah was (don’t laugh) a developer. While sitting on the bench, he decided to revise the company’s project management software. He rapidly prototyped a new system using SQL Server instead of Access and the .NET Framework with an ORM instead of ad hoc SQL written in VBScript and classic ASP.

The Technology World

Star Wars Episode III was released. YouTube was launched. The Xbox 360 was released.

And, after long last, Microsoft released SQL Server 2005. It had been a long five years since SQL Server 2000. There were drastic changes between the two editions. DMVs (dynamic management views), CLR, hot-add memory, ranking functions, and the XML data type were introduced. Database Mirroring, a new HA feature, was available as of SP1. SQL Server Management Studio: need I say more? These were big changes!

Star Wars III: You know you saw it in the theater
Star Wars III: You know you saw it in the theater

Moving On

Jump in the time machine. 9 years later, I’m writing this blog post. It’s January, and a new year is beginning.

I’ve finished college, I’ve moved up from the help desk (way up), I’ve been to – and spoken at – a couple user group meetings just in the last month, and I’ve run a couple marathons.

Brent? He’s done OK. He’s attained Microsoft Certified Master (MCM) status in SQL Server. He’s gone from DBA to software evangelist to consultant. He’s spoken all over the world.

Kendra has also attained MCM status and become a consultant. She’s learned a lot about hardware, query tuning, and when it pays to upgrade your environment instead of sinking countless people-hours into solving a problem.

Doug is the newest member of the Brent Ozar Unlimited® crew. He’s spent his 9 years learning everything he knows about SQL Server, and becoming a blogger, presenter, and user group leader.

Jeremiah used his software project to set the course for his career. He learned he had a knack for databases, and he ran with it. He too has become a successful consultant, blogger, and speaker.

Technology? It’s changed a bit, too.

Our iPads are now as powerful as Doug’s computer was back in the day. The Xbox One and PlayStation 4 launched this year. Instead of carrying around a phone, a laptop, a camera, and scanner, we carry one smartphone that does everything.

SQL Server, 9 Years, and You

SQL Server has changed dramatically, too!

SQL Server 2012 has been out for well over a year, and SP1 was released in 2013. This release brought some big changes. Internally, the way memory is handled was changed, improving operations and efficiency. There are improved T-SQL functions, such as more windowing functions. AlwaysOn Availability Groups were introduced as the latest HA/DR technology. With a GUI, Extended Events is ready to take over Profiler’s job. Columnstore indexes were introduced to make data warehouse storage and retrieval more efficient.

What’s next? We’re awaiting word on a release date for SQL Server 2014. This release is going to have the usual improvements, and then some. There’s a new method for cardinality estimation. A new engine is being introduced – In-Memory OLTP. Backups can be done directly to “the cloud” in Windows Azure. Clustered columnstore indexes will be updateable. There’s more – check out my recent webcast!

Let Me Ask You a Question

And let’s focus on your job. Are you still using the same laptop you did in 2005? If you’re on call, are you still using the same phone – or, help us all, the same pager – you had 9 years ago? Has your company’s main business application undergone change since then?

2005: HP Compag nx9600 - loaded with a  Pentium 4 650, 2048 MB RAM, 60 GB 7,200 RPM hard drive, and almost 10 pounds
2005: HP Compag nx9600 – loaded with a Pentium 4 650, 2048 MB RAM, 60 GB 7,200 RPM hard drive, and almost 10 pounds

You have a newer laptop. You have a newer phone. The applications have been updated, or changed entirely. Why are you still on SQL Server 2005?

Yes, the process of testing a database upgrade is time-consuming. But it’s well worth it. The changes to the internals and the new features available are nothing but positive. And let’s not forget that in just over two years – Microsoft is currently stating April 12, 2016 – extended support for SQL Server 2005 ends.

Start making plans to upgrade today, and reap the benefits!

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15 Comments. Leave new

  • About a quarter of the servers we manage are still on SQL 2005. Since they’re all vendor applications contacting people now to start getting them thinking about upgrading is probably a good idea. After all, 5% of our environment is still running SQL 2000 and we pushed people for a year before EOL to upgrade.

    • Chris, I feel your pain we still have a SQL 7 running that we have been trying to get rid of for years. What I like even more are the *new* apps that say they support SQL 2008 but when setup runs it sets the database for SQL 2000 compatibility mode. Nice since that flag doesn’t work in SQL 2012

  • You really nailed it. I realized that 2014 is the right year to get rid of all those 2005’s. Nice post !

  • We are still using SQL Server 2005 because the client refuses to upgrade. This is the same client that will not pay for backups either. Our other client has agreed to upgrade to 2012 in the next few months. That will be an adventure.

  • Awesome article. It’s pretty crazy to think of how quickly things have changed both in technology and personally. In 2005, I didn’t know what a clustered index was, and now I know so much more. Can’t wait to get on SQL Server 2012 and beyond, since we are on 2008 R2.

  • the problem in most of the companies are terrifying by risk, if have been working for years don´t touch these sql 2000, 2005 or even older versions, for example, I have a friend who have to migrate 600 dbs to 2012 and most of them are on 2000, 7 and 6.5, 10% are on 2005, 2% on 2008 r2 and only one db server on 2012 that will be a 5 node cluster with 256 gb in RAM under VMware that is not supported by Microsoft and they are forcing to use hyper-v and with 2012 versions but the customer doen´t want to change virtualization vendor and my friend have to deal with all the operating system and database issues and he is still earning the same money that 10 years ago

  • I still have production databases in SQL 2000, not to mention 2005, 2008 and 2012. I use to miss Enterprise Manager, but now I’ve finally gotten use to SSMS.

  • Sadly, we still have a SQL Server 2000 box. I hope to move to SQL Server 2012 this year. I’m an accidental DBA but my databases are relatively small and simple (think <200 meg)

  • In the last two years.. I have had my phone I picked up in 2004 upgraded, the PC I picked up in 2003 and our 2005 SQL to 2008R2. (Laptop was upgraded from 2007, so not as bad)

  • Sadly the work to deprecate 32bit SQL2000 is still ongoing. The effort to migrate applications and the test cycles involved are hard to resource.
    It is likely that as apps are completely rewritten then this will finally free us from the unquiet ghost.

    There are additional challenges. The three pronged attack in the form of SQL2012 licencing costs, improvements that have happened in MySQL, the emergence of NOSQL solutions now make the open-source DB competitors a real option for the load we would put through the old SQL Servers.

  • 2 of our 3 main production systems are on SQL 2000 (the other is on 2005) and it looks like we’re at least a year away from porting to 2008 r2, never mind getting them on 2012/2014 🙁

    At least some of the new systems are being developed on SQL 2012 so every cloud and all that.

    • Jes Schultz Borland
      August 27, 2014 9:52 am

      Oh man, that stinks.

      • Yep, it certainly does. The one small, tiny chink of light at the end of the tunnel is apparently we’re getting approval in next years budget to migrate everything from 2000/2005 onto 2008R2 (minimum). It’s a big job but it’ll be worth it. Now i just have to persuade people to migrate to 2012 instead….

  • Here is why we are hanging onto our SQL Server 2005 Standard edition. We have no limit to the number of cores or RAM we can give it. When we need more cores or RAM we buy a bigger cpu or server or add more memory. We are not forced to buy another SQL Server license just because we added more cores or RAM.

    Try doing that with SQL Server 2014 Standard edition and you will hit the wall at 128GB RAM and need to buy packs of 2 core licenses each time you add more cores. If we determine we need faster IOPS we just give it faster PCIe SSD drives. Why upgrade to SQL Server 2014 when it imposes such restrictive limits on how much you can hardware upgrade your database.

    • Jes Schultz Borland
      August 29, 2014 12:34 pm

      True, SQL Server 2005 didn’t have a lot of hardware and licensing restrictions newer versions do. However, you’re missing out on a host of new features, from new T-SQL commands to new HA/DR capabilities, improved memory management to a better cardinality estimator.

      What are you planning to do when SQL Server – which is already out of mainstream support – is out of extended support, too? That’s happening in 18 months, so you need to plan for the future.


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