End of support for SQL and Windows server 2008

end support windows

Once in a while, software vendors are making changes to their portfolios by introducing a new product, changing price lists, ending support and so on. If you want to make sure that you are at all times compliant, then it’s advisable to keep an eye on these changes. As you may already know, Microsoft announced the end of support for some of its products: SQL Server 2008 and 2008 R2 as of July 9, 2019 and Windows Server 2008 and 2008 R2 as of January 14, 2020. But what does this mean for you as an end user? This article aims to provide a practical insight on how this could potentially impact you.

What does this mean?

After the release of a product, Microsoft offers two support phases – mainstream and extended.

  • Mainstream Support

    lasts for 5 years after the product is released. As part of this support offering, Microsoft provides security updates, non-security updates (e.g. feature updates, tool updates, driver updates), design changes and warranty claims. When mainstream support ends, the Microsoft product falls under extended support for another five years.

  • Extended Support 

    starts when Mainstream Support has ended. As part of this support offering, Microsoft provides bug fixes and patches but does not develop or add new features. In addition, no security updates are provided.

Once the extended support ends, running applications and data on unsupported versions can lead to security and GDPR compliance risks especially to internally hosted web sites and internet-facing client servers like Microsoft Exchange. Even if a server isn’t accessible from the internet, viruses and malware can still spread from one server to another if they are in a network and they run unsupported software that lacks security.

What are the options?

Since Microsoft is ending its Extended Support offering for SQL Server 2008 and 2008 R2 and Windows Server 2008 and 2008 R2, there are a number of options that you can explore.

Upgrade your on premises deployments

You can upgrade your 2008 and 2008 R2 versions to either the latest SQL Server (2017) and Windows Server (2019) and get the most updated features and security landscape. Another option would be to upgrade to 2012 R2 if the applications that are ran on the server do not support Windows Server 2016 or later.

Transition to Microsoft Azure

If you don’t want to upgrade to the latest server version, you could move your Windows Server 2008/2008 R2 and SQL 2008/2008 R2 to Azure. Azure can be purchased in many ways and an SQL Server in Azure can be operated as a “database as a service” in which patches or availability are accessible automatically.

Azure Hybrid Benefit

If you already have Software Assurance (a program that includes an extensive set of technologies, services, rights, and benefits) active on your SQL and Windows Server licenses, a lower cost alternative for moving to Azure would be to use the licenses through the Azure Hybrid Benefit. This is one of the benefits offered through Software Assurance that allows you to use your on premises licenses to run Windows virtual machines or SQL Databases on Azure at a discounted cost.

Use the Extended Security Updates

For a maximum of three years after the extended support ends, Microsoft makes available Extended Security Updates for both on premises and Azure licenses. They include security updates and bulletins – monthly notifications addressing security vulnerabilities in Microsoft software, describing their remediation, and providing links to the applicable updates for affected software.

  • For on premises SQL and Windows Server with active Software Assurance under an Enterprise Agreement (EA), Enterprise Agreement Subscription or Server & Cloud Enrollment (SCE), you will be able to purchase Extended Security Updates only for the servers you need to cover. They are available for purchase as of March 1st, 2019, from Microsoft or a Microsoft licensing partner at a 75% of the cost of the EA or SCE license prices of the latest version of SQL Server or Windows Server.
  • If you move to Azure, the Extended Security Updates are available and free of charge.

Before choosing any of the above presented options, take time to consider your organization’s specific requirements. It might be tempting to go for the cheapest option now, but if you want to win, it has to still be worth it in the long run. Do you have questions or need help to better understand the choices you have? Don’t hesitate to reach out to us.