On July 9, 2019, Microsoft will be ending its extended support for SQL Server 2008 and 2008 R2 versions. In addition, on January 14, 2020, it is eliminating extended support for Windows 7. These were popular versions of each product with huge install bases for much of the past decade.
There are many challenges involved with the SQL Server upgrade, but the good news is that this is a prime opportunity to get on the road to IT modernization.
Here are some important steps to take as you begin your journey:
- Assess your environment from the ground up. Start with a discovery session on how your database and infrastructure operate. Use the tools you have available to you, such as your own management platform, the free Microsoft Assessment and Planning (MAP) Toolkit, or similar tools from Movere, Turbonomic, and others. Review your entire environment to detail your number of servers and versions, databases and versions, applications and versions, active usage, and other key factors.
- Identify the line-of-business or technology owners to help you prioritize data estates. The tools mentioned above can get you 90 to 95 percent of the information you need, but the remainder may be the toughest part: identifying the custom data tables and applications your organization has built (perhaps a decade ago), and who owns them. You will need to understand the what and why behind these data estates to decide which are most critical to your business. At this late stage, you may not be able to save all your data estates. But you may detect some that are little used and aren’t worth saving.
- Review your current commitments to IT vendors. You can’t effectively prioritize assets without knowledge of all your licenses and commitments, including any recent purchases. These transactions could dictate some of your next steps.
- Determine if you have any long-term commitments to consume Azure. Such commitments may be part of the software licenses you purchased from Microsoft. Like point No. 3 above, they may have a bearing on your next steps.
- Beware of potential cloud service latency issues. Migrating to the cloud may be your No. 1 choice. For the most part, it is not hard for your cloud provider to pull it off. But you must consider the potential latency problems. Latency issues typically happen when databases and data sources are physically separated by a great distance. The greater the distance, the more likely it is that your users will experience significant delays in getting their questions answered and requests fulfilled. Your users’ expectations should remain a top priority — which may mean keeping database servers on-premises for a time, or re-architecting your environment.
- Know your on-premises capacity requirements. You may favor upgrading to the more current on-premises versions, but to do so, you must have the server capacity for up to three more years. If you don’t, migrating to the cloud may be the more budget-friendly option.
- Formulate a plan, and prioritize, prioritize, prioritize. What are your mission-critical data applications? What is your low-hanging fruit (i.e., things you can get done right away)? What is your long-term strategy? How can you meet the end of support deadline (or how can you get reasonably close)?
- Reach out to a third-party for help, if necessary. If you need help, get it. It could save you dearly in the long run. A cloud managed services provider (MSP) such as Insight could assess your environment and help you quickly come up with a plan of action.