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The last post for SQL 2008 and SQL 2008 R2

With the relentless march of time comes the relentless march of technology. Time is ticking for our old and faithful friends; Microsoft SQL 2008 (b. August 6, 2008) and her younger brother Microsoft SQL 2008 R2 (b. July 20, 2010). Microsoft have announced end-of-support for these two fine soldiers on July 9, 2019.

What does this mean? Well it means that if you have line of business systems using these technologies, it's time to make a plan. This post will help you make a plan by giving you options and resources (and benefits and incentives) towards your march against time.

But before I begin on that I think it would be appropriate to reflect on the life and times of these two greats. It’s a chance to reminisce as well as realise how far these tools and their offspring have come in the intervening ten years.

So, let’s kick off with a few cool features that were introduced with the 2008 series - and that we’ve been able to take for granted ever since:

  • Geospatial Data Types and Functions
  • SQL Auditing
  • Date and Time Data Types
  • Change Data Capture
  • Transparent Database Encryption

And for the TSQL fans:

  • Insert multiple rows using single INSERT Statement
  • Intellisense for SQL queries in SSMS
  • SSMS Debug
  • The Merge statement

Then R2 came along and added:

  • Report Builder 3.0
  • StreamInsight
  • Master Data Services
  • Self-service BI with Project Gemini
  • And Data-Tier Application

This in my opinion was the emergence of Microsoft as a serious player in the BI space, and one they have continued to build on impressively since – leading them to where they are now as consistent leaders in the magic quadrant for Analytics and BI platforms.

Now here we sit, eight years later with an impressive array of capabilities from the SQL Server family; on-premises and in the cloud. Who’d have thought we’d be able to spin up and ratchet up near-instant, near-limitless resources at the touch of a mouse. However, on a poignant note there are plenty of us that will need to act soon because we have reliance on SQL 2008 for some of our business-critical systems.

If this is you, there is great news. Microsoft have several options for you to transition from SQL 2008 to new technologies (on-premises; or in the cloud as IaaS or SaaS technologies); and as Gold partners, we would love the opportunity to help you. Additionally, there are several offers and incentives that Microsoft have come up with to encourage your uptake of Azure services, which (already making great sense functionally and financially) sweetens the prospect even further.

I’ll get into that later – meanwhile let’s look at a few examples of where you might be at, and some of the options you’ll have to transition from your current reliance on SQL 2008.

  1. You wish to migrate your SQL Server databases to the cloud and gain immediate benefits like on-demand scaling, backups, high-availability and having Microsoft take care of the updates and patching. Pay only for what you need, and keep your application running with just the change of a connection string. In that case Azure SQL Database is perfect for you.
  2. You’re wanting a near-100% coverage of SQL Server on premise ensuring you can lift and shift your database and all its functionality to the cloud, consider the Azure SQL Database Managed Instance. See the feature comparison for a list of differences.
  3. You wish to migrate your SQL Server databases to the cloud with more control over the SQL Server instance and the ability to support it alongside other applications and/or development activities. Then an Azure SQL Server Virtual Machine could be ideal.
  4. You have a legacy web application that uses SQL 2008 or 2008 R2. In this case, perhaps not wishing to act immediately you might want to stay with 2008 R2 for a bit longer. This is possible through Azure Virtual Machines. Microsoft will support 2008/2008R2 images set up in Azure for three more years after the end of support deadline.
  5. You may want to retain certain SQL Server workloads on-premises. For that you have the suite of SQL Server products as always, with the addition last year of the newest version of their flagship product, SQL Server 2017.
  6. You have a large database on premises that has a lot of cold data. Consider offloading (stretching) lesser used data into Azure SQL Server using SQL Server Stretch Database, available with SQL Server 2016 onwards. Seamless to your applications and your users but saving considerable space on your drives and making backups and restores much faster and more reliable.

The examples above all involve the retention of your applications with a ‘swap-out’ of the database tier. However, you may also see these options as an opportunity to transform your applications and infrastructure to take advantage of cloud computing and the latest versions of SQL Server.

Maybe you don’t yet use the Azure capabilities but are excited by the prospects of Azure Data Services as a means to lower your server maintenance costs and have access to on-demand scale-up and scale-down as your needs require. As you can see, there are several ways to migrate your SQL Server workloads to Azure and keep your applications humming along as before. As well as Microsoft and vendor tools and processes to help along the way. The retirement of SQL Server 2008 might just be the catalyst you need to commence that transition.

And for those with a need to retain a consistent approach to solution deployment and management with a hybrid situation of investment on-premises but still benefitting from many of the cloud capabilities, there’s the Azure Stack.

Azure is undergoing continuous and impressive improvement; from the portal experience, the suite of tools and services, the management and support, and the stability of the platforms. The breadth, depth and quality of the Azure Services is truly staggering.

A small subset of Microsoft Azure services

Figure 1 - The seriously big list of Azure Services - and it gets added to all the time (just a small part of a long list)!

Now where are these incentives and offers I spoke of earlier?

Microsoft are excited about helping customers into the Azure space; they continue to invest enormous effort into keeping it a world class platform. And they want you to join them.

Here are a few of the types of incentives and offers from Microsoft; and directly available to customers, and there are several others available exclusively through your relationship with Microsoft’s partners (like us!).

  • Azure Hybrid benefit – Enabling you to save up to 55 percent on SQL Server and Windows Server costs in Azure when you utilise Azure Virtual Machines or Azure SQL Managed Instances with your existing licenses and Software Assurance. The link above contains a calculator that will show you the potential savings in your scenario.
  • FastTrack for Azure - FastTrack for Azure brings proven practices, design principles and tools from engineering and real customer experiences to guide customers from design, configuration, and development to production of FastTrack-supported Azure solutions. These include: Rehost data infrastructure on Azure, Data modernization (Refactor or Rebuild DB) to Azure, Big Data and Modern Data Warehouse.
  • Free events and sessions to get you up to speed; like Azure Discovery Days and Azure Webinars. Simply search the MS Community Events to see when these are available to you.
  • …and talk to us about other partner-based incentives you may also qualify for.

Whatever your situation, we at Intergen are here to help.

As Microsoft Gold Partners, awarded the 2018 Microsoft Data & AI Award and Partner of the Year for 2018; we know the ins and outs of this space and can help you pick from the many options, applied to the context of your business. We have a ton of experience and a ton of IP in this space which gives you the dual benefits of the peace-of-mind of a mature process and reliable transition; as well as keeping the costs low due to the re-use of our tried and tested approaches and tools.

As above, we’d love the opportunity to assist you with your uptake of Azure services; from the planning and strategy, through decision making and selection, through to implementation and support. And through our close partnership with Microsoft, we’ll work with you and with Microsoft to ensure you receive any incentives and offers that you may qualify for, and in line with your plans and aspirations.

Give us a call - and we’ll get stuck into it. In the meantime… to SQL 2008 and SQL 2008 R2; we salute you and all who came after you.

Posted by: Bryce Saunders, Senior Consultant | 30 August 2018

Tags: Azure, Microsoft Azure, MS SQL, SQL Database

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