Do you still use SQL 2008, 2008 R2 or 2012 instances? If you hadn’t already heard, SQL Server 2008 mainstream support ended in 2014. What’s more, extended support for this technology reached its end of life in July 2019 and SQL Server 2012 mainstream support also ended in July 2019.
For those of you using Windows Server 2008 and 2008 R2, mainstream support ended in 2015 and extended support ends now, in January 2020.
So, what does this mean for your business if you still have some SQL 2008, 2008 R2 or 2012 instances? Primarily, your servers will no longer benefit from essential security updates and patches. But the full impact on your organisation is impossible to project because the consequences will vary from business to business.
If you are running legacy SQL Servers or don’t know exactly what versions you use, we’d recommend a SQL Server database audit. This will not only ensure your business is not adversely affected by these legacy systems but also help you understand and then mitigate against any potential issues.
Let’s look at some of the consequences of using end-of-life SQL Servers now and investigate how you can address these challenges.
Consequence #1: End of security updates
When support for Windows and SQL Server 2008 ends, Microsoft will no longer provide your servers with any security updates. As a result, you’ll be running unsupported machines at your own risk, leaving your enterprise open to a range of cyber security threats.
Such unsupported systems are often targeted by cyber criminals. For example, during the WannaCry ransomware attack of 2017, 98 percent of affected businesses were using an outdated version of their operating system. What’s more, by keeping your servers up to date, any bugs afflicting your servers are automatically fixed, helping your servers run at peak performance.
So, to summarise, by migrating to the latest SQL Server versions, your organisation will benefit from the latest security updates, boosting both its productivity and online security.
Consequence #2: Lack of Compliance
There are a range of compliance standards that today’s enterprise technologies need to adhere to. These include the HIPAA, PCI DSS, GDPR and ISO 27001. However, end-of-life SQL Servers may not comply with these standards and this lack of compliance could cause significant damage to your organisation.
For starters, a failure to comply with most standards leaves you vulnerable to hefty fees and penalties. If you experience a data breach (which is highly likely due to the aforementioned security holes in your legacy systems), then the financial damage could be substantial. For example, the maximum fine under the GDPR is up to 4% of your annual global turnover or 20 million Euros – where you will be charged the greater amount. Plus, your organisation’s reputation could suffer if you experience a data breach and/or cannot demonstrate that you are keeping up to date with industry standards.
Consequence #3: Increased Costs and Failure Rates
Legacy servers are not only expensive to run and maintain but are also prone to performance issues and downtime. There are also a range of knock-on effects when a legacy system fails, including dissatisfied customers, lost sales, brand and loyalty damage, and the expenses associated with recovering your IT systems and restoring any lost data. From an internal perspective, your employee productivity will decrease, and you may need to pay for employee overtime costs to meet deadlines after a failure. What’s more, the resulting stress this all places on your workforce could lower employee morale and lead to high turnover rates.
As your systems continue to age, these costs will continue to mount up, and may quickly become burdensome for businesses trying to keep their budgets under control. Your failure rates will also increase, making system downtime an unavoidable consequence of your legacy systems.
Consequence #4: Inhibited business scalability and growth
Old and new technologies rarely work together. As a result, your old SQL 2008, 2008 R2 or 2012 instances may not be compatible with any new software or hardware you use now, or introduce in the future. This prohibits you from innovating and benefiting from any new, advanced capabilities that more up-to-date systems could bring. As a result, your competitiveness as a business is hindered.
Legacy systems can also not support your company’s growth and offer no support for increasing your production capacity. This leaves you vulnerable to falling behind the competition as your business needs to continually evolve and your systems need to be able to keep up. But you simply cannot achieve a competitive edge with legacy SQL Servers.
Consequence #5: Inability to innovate
If you are stuck using legacy systems, you are stuck in the past. Your business cannot benefit from the innovative, new features that the latest SQL Server versions offer. As discussed, this not only includes some vital security and compliance features, but your business availability and performance could also be adversely affected as you fail to innovate.
For example, SQL Server 2016 brings impressive new features including In Memory, Temporal tables, Query store, Always Encrypted, Dynamic Data Masking, Row-level security, Improvements on Column Store, Basic Availability Groups, Stretch DB, R and Polybase integration, and JSON support.
What’s more, SQL Server 2019 takes advantage of big data clusters, allowing you to deploy multiple scalable clusters of containers running on Kubernetes, at once. As a result, you can use a range of data virtualisation, scalable data lake storage, data analysis, AI and machine learning, management and monitoring features.
If you are faced with obsolete SQL Servers, what are your options? You can migrate or upgrade to a new version, migrate to the cloud, or face comprehensive performance degradations if a migration study is not done.
A migration study is a necessity to help you find the right solution for your business and we are one of the few companies that knows how to run a thorough SQL Server Migration Study. Our study tells you which queries could get broken by your legacy systems, which queries will need rewriting prior to migrating to a newer version, which queries would perform better, and which queries need to be degraded.
Our approach is not only tailored to your business, we also actively seek cost savings across your architecture. For example, by migrating from 2008, 2008 R2 or 2012 to a version higher than 2014 and implementing SQL Server management of obsolescence, you can avoid any nasty surprises.
If you’re concerned about your architecture, we would recommend a SQL Server database audit as a first step. This will help us evaluate your environment, identifying cost and efficiency savings across your business. You can find out more about our services here.