SQL Server 2008 and R2 Support Ends Tomorrow. Let’s Talk About That.

SQL Server 2008

Yes, literally, extended support ends tomorrow.

  1. Take this 2-question poll about the oldest and newest versions you’re running
  2. Read the poll results
  3. Register for my DBA Fundamentals webcast tomorrow about 2008, and we’ll talk about the poll and the results

I’ve got a pretty good idea of what the poll results are going to look like, and it won’t be pretty. During my conference sessions, I often ask for a show of hands about the oldest version that people are still supporting. There are usually a *lot* more people running SQL Server 2008 & R2 in production than are running the most recent version.

I understand that there are a lot of reasons why 2008 & R2 are still here:

  • SQL Server just works – like anything in IT, it works until it doesn’t. As long as it’s still working, companies are hesitant to spend money on it.
  • SQL Server licenses are expensive – companies often bought it, but then didn’t buy Software Assurance because they didn’t have any plans to upgrade anytime soon.
  • Migrations are expensive – involving planning, prep work, and downtime.
  • Testing is expensive, too – developers aren’t sure if the new version will break their application. When given the choice between paying for testing SQL Server 2017 versus paying for development of new application features, users often pick the latter.
  • Change equals risk – if we’re not testing the app, there’s a risk that it’ll break on a newer version of SQL Server. (I think that risk is exceedingly small as long as you stick to the older compatibility level, but there’s an educational cost to get users to understand that.)

And for me, maybe the biggest reason is that database administrators believe that they’re powerless to change the business’s mind. I think you’re wrong: I think you have a little bit more power than you’re aware, and in the DBA Fundamentals webcast, I’ll talk about how you can exercise some of that power.

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18 Comments. Leave new

  • Combination of being risk adverse and the time commitment to testing. The Business demands, and rightly so, User Acceptance Testing when changes are made to core LOB applications.. But can’t / won’t commit to more than a single round of UAT a year for IT projects from the IT department.

  • Georgi Kyuchukov
    July 8, 2019 9:47 am

    Good news. Now when one is answering a question in Stack-Overflow is finally able to use TRY_CONVERT , CONCAT and IIF without worrying that the OP environment is not supporting them 🙂

    • That’s my quandary, too: I can’t decide whether to drop support for 2008 & R2 in the First Responder Kit. I think for now, I’m going to stick with 2008 & R2 syntax for the foreseeable future, though – looking at that survey, there are a ton of customers still on those older versions.

      • K. Brian Kelley
        July 8, 2019 9:52 am

        Remember, Azure IAAS support for 2008 / 2008R2 is for another 3 years and this is one of the recommended paths if you can move off prem but can’t move off these versions. So that’s a good reason to keep support in the First Responders Kit.

        • That’s a great point!

        • Mark Freeman
          July 8, 2019 10:13 am

          We have several SQL 2008 R2 instances used by legacy applications and management’s answer was not to upgrade the SQL Server versions, but to migrate them to Azure, either SQL Server in VMs or Managed Instances (all our newer applications are using Azure SQL Database). We are going to make that happen in the next few months. We will need to keep these databases running for at least 10 more years (archived financial data), so we will likely have to upgrade to newer SQL versions at some point even in Azure. But history tells me that management will likely delay that until very late in that 3-year support extension.

      • Like Mark Freeman our company has had to continue use of 2008R2 because of legacy software. The vendor does have a newer version that’s on SQL 2016 but its a cloud based product and we learned the hard way that cloud providers (like used car salesmen) are full of half-truths and will promise you anything to get you to make the move because they know once they have a company it will endure a LOT of pain and dissatisfaction before trying to switch back to on prem because of how expensive it is to do so. We are looking at doing something to get off 2008R2 but its still in the works. I imagine so many are still on this older version of SQL Server because of how good it is and because you still have a lot of applications that still depend on it.

        Thanks for all you do Brent!

  • what should i answer if a server uses sql server 2019 in prod? (new system in azure, with compat mode 150 turned on)

  • Gordon Feeney
    July 9, 2019 2:17 am

    Admittedly the poll number is fairly small however if it does even slightly reflect the rest of the SQL Server world then only 30% are using version 2012 or above. And 1.5% are still using version 7.0? Wow!

    I wish I ‘d maintained my COBOL skills from back in the day. I’d have retired by now a happier and much wealthier man 🙂

  • I am curious what strategy chooses companys with SQL 2008/R2 for the next year:
    1. doing nothing and waiting till the Business-application was not more needed
    2. migrating to a newer SQL version
    3. migrating to Azure (SQL 2008 on IaaS) to get support and new critical security hotfixes
    4. buying ESU (extended security updates), where the cost is 75% of the Licensing costs every year till 3 years, to get security hotfixes and to have the possibility to get Microsoft support

    About point 4 you can get detailed information on:

  • Nope, we are still analyzing the best exit strategy… 🙂

  • Henrik Staun Poulsen
    August 5, 2019 6:28 am

    Where is the Azure SQL Database option?

    • It’s not SQL Server.

      • Henrik Staun Poulsen
        August 5, 2019 10:58 am

        And Azure SQL Database managed instance is not a SQL Server either? That’s strange, because I think that Microsoft promotes a Managed Instance as a viable upgrade path from the old SQL Server 2008? 🙂

        I’m happy to report that I have 1 (one) SQL Server 2012 left, otherwise everything runs SQL Database, and quite nicely too (but I still miss SQL Agent and GetDate() in local time).

        • I totally understand that you like Azure SQL DB (and so do I), it it ain’t SQL Server. It’s very similar, and uses a lot of the same code, but it isn’t SQL Server. Your first clue is in the name, and the second clue is when you try to download it to run it locally. 😉

          • Henrik Staun Poulsen
            August 6, 2019 4:50 am

            and I would like to show the path that my company took; away from SQL Server 2008, and into the future with Azure SQL Database (or had Managed Instance come out a bit earlier then that would have been my prefered choice, as the 4 vCore has an attractive price)

          • OK, cool – by all means, set up a blog and start writing about it! Folks would love to hear about your migration to that new product.

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