Microsoft SQL 2008 EOS: 18 Million Reasons To Be Excited About The Future!

Jeff DeVerter, CTO of Microsoft Technologies at Cloudreach, considers how the End Of Service for Microsoft SQL 2008 represents a unique opportunity to transform and elevate your business.

Throughout history, the date November 6th has had some notable events:

  • In 355 Roman Emperor, Constantius II, promotes his cousin Julian to the rank of Caesar
  • In 1913, Mohandas Gandhi is arrested while leading a march of Indian miners in South Africa
  • In 1971, The United States Atomic Energy Commission tests the largest U.S. underground hydrogen bomb, code-named Cannikin, on Amchitka Island in the Aleutians

Also on the list is that on November 6th, 2008, the official product lifecycle for Microsoft SQL 2008 began. 

I did a fair amount of research attempting to find out how many totally deployments of the application were made over the years - but it appears that information isn’t readily available to the public.  I have anecdotally heard that there are still 18 million installations still running in data centers around the world. (18 million!).

I wish this is where this post would end - or perhaps I could go on to compare this statistic to other “18 million” things.  However, unfortunately,  I’m writing this post from a position of disbelief, not just because there are 18 million versions of an 11-year-old database application running production workloads today but also that those workloads are running without any form of support from Microsoft as mainstream support ended for SQL Server 2008 (and 2008 R2) on July 9th, 2019.

Let’s put this into perspective:

  • If you have a technical issue with SQL 2008 that takes down your production application: no support
  • If your database is compromised by hackers: no support
  • If you need new features in SQL: no support

Now, lest I be accused of being too dramatic and accusatory that Microsoft wouldn’t have given us weary data-collectors any options, here is what’s available.  But before I show you these options, I’d like to first challenge you to get out of the mindset that you have to have a server. What you have in those tired old boxes is nothing short of gold.  You have DATA and there’s nothing more valuable than that. So if it’s so valuable - shouldn’t you give supreme consideration to the absolute best location for that data for it to create the most value for your company?

You see, we used to look at data like we did when we looked through the bluish lens of the Magic 8-Ball. We would ask a single question of the data - look through the lens and get a single answer. In today’s world we can still do that - ask a question, get an answer.  But the data estate which holds the information is worth ever so much more.


Before we pontificate any more about the art of the possible, we should answer the question about what we can do with those old boxes:

Option 1: The ostrich principle

Do nothing and hope the problem goes away.  I think you will agree that this isn’t an option that you should be considering.  Let’s move on.

Option 2: Kick the can down the road

Microsoft will allow you to write them a check to purchase additional support while you, hopefully, implement a strategy to either upgrade your SQL deployments or implement a strategy to move your data to other database technologies.

Option 3: Kick the can into the Cloud

If you have Software Assurance on your SQL deployments, Microsoft will allow you lift-and-shift (migrate) your SQL 2008 and SQL 2008 R2 servers to Azure and receive three more years of security updates at no additional fee (other than maintaining Software Assurance and paying your Azure bill).  While this doesn’t necessarily solve anything - it does buy you some time to implement an upgrade strategy without having to write Microsoft a big check for extending support. Let’s face it, that strategy will undoubtedly include the Cloud in some fit or fashion, so at least your data is in the right location.  It should be noted, the option of not having to pay for the support is only available in Azure.

Option 4: Upgrade!

There are several newer version of production-grade SQL versions available from Microsoft today.  Choose the one you are comfortable with and upgrade.

Option 5: Transform

Since SQL 2008 was released, many different types of databases and database technologies have been released and are readily available either on-premises or in the Cloud.  This is an excellent time to consider how you might configure or carve-up the data estate running on these now antiquated database servers.  

In 2008, we were still writing monolithic applications that ran on large database servers.  Since this time, the trend in both applications has been in the form of distribution. This trend of distributing workloads and datasets has been accelerated by the advent and growth of the Cloud.  The Cloud makes both proprietary and open-sourced database technologies available as-a-service, making the need to buy, install, and manage costly server estates completely unnecessary. In a time where these Cloud providers are fighting for market share and customers, there are numerous incentives on the table to help offset the cost of making this move and transformation.

So how do you get started with this kind of transformation?  It starts with a strategy. I’ve heard it said that the hardest part getting to the moon is making the decision to actually go there - the rest was an engineering challenge.  Setting a goal, aligning resources, and staying the course are the hardest parts of any endeavor. You first need to understand: 

  1. What should your data estate look like in one-three years?
  2. Should that estate live in the Cloud (and you better have a good reason if it not)?
  3. If your data and compute needs live in the Cloud - what other features are now available that can supercharge your applications and your business?

To point #3 above, the answer is Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML).  These two capabilities have the potential to unlock hidden goldmines inside of your data in the form of:

  • Trends you didn’t know existed
  • Correlations you didn’t have visibility into
  • Forecasting with a higher degree of accuracy than you ever could before

Imagine those previous three data points against your data.  Would you now have better sales forecasting accuracy?  Could you better forecast the next support call and thereby drive better staffing? Cloud you identify fraud against financial transactions?  Only you know the answer to those question - only you know your data.

So there you go.  Let’s get off these old servers, these old paradigms of computing - and press on to the future.  Let’s stop patching servers and start planning for success. Let’s play a game of “what if” with your data and start to envision the art of the possible with your business.  

To answer the question of what to do about an unsupported SQL 2008 server: It’s not about upgrading a server - it’s about transforming your business.

Are you concerned about how the End Of Support for Microsoft SQL 2008 will impact your business? Read our eBook.

Cloudreach can help you move your affected workloads onto the Cloud. We enable our customers to operate effectively in the Cloud by modernizing the underlying infrastructure for the Cloud, integrating applications with Cloud-managed services, rearchitecting applications to Cloud-native technologies, and supporting the infrastructure to ensure critical patches are never missed. For more information, click here.


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