Enterprises Face End of SQL Server 2005 Support in Less than a Year

Enterprises using Microsoft SQL Server 2005 will see the relational database management system (RDBMS) reach the end of its lifecycle support in less than a year, the Redmond software giant recently announced.

On April 12, 2016, the database software will lose its "extended support" product lifecycle status, Microsoft said, after which it won't provide updates such as security patches, which could result in security concerns for some enterprises.

Only organizations that have secured "custom support" agreements through Microsoft Premier Support are likely to be unaffected by the deadline. However, those agreements can sometimes last for just a year and they come at an extra cost.

Migrating from SQL Server 2005 can take "several months," according to Microsoft's announcement. However, it depends on "the type of application" supported, the "migration destination" (on-premises or cloud) and the size of the move. Microsoft proposes using the Microsoft Assessment and Planning Toolkit to discover which apps in a computing environment are using SQL Server 2005.

As for figuring out the migration destination, Microsoft offers a SQL Server 2014 upgrade technical guide or its Azure SQL Database Migration Wizard.

According to the technical guide, things don't break when moving from SQL Server 2012 to SQL Server 2014 (p. 22). It's possible to perform an "in-place" upgrade from SQL Server 2005 to SQL Server 2014, which replaces the old relational database management system. It's also possible to execute a "side-by-side" upgrade, which enables all or some of the data to move, according to the guide. With a side-by-side upgrade, the two SQL Server instances can coexist on the same server, but the data have to be manually transferred.

In-place upgrades, though, don't work when moving from a 32-bit instance of SQL Server 2005 to a 64-bit instance of a newer version of the server.

Microsoft is touting its SQL Server 2014 product or its Azure SQL Database service as alternatives to SQL Server 2005. The company claims that SQL Server 2014 is "13 times faster than SQL Server 2005."

Migration Costs
The migration to SQL Server 2012 or SQL Server 2014 won't be cheap. A Forrester Research study, commissioned by Microsoft, estimated that a retail organization with 30,000 employees and 300 SQL Server databases to move would pay $1.5 million in initial software licensing fees, paying $600,000 per year subsequently. It also would cost $1.8 million for "training, data migration, planning" and other professional services.

Forrester's July 2014 study (PDF), "The Total Economic Impact of Microsoft SQL Server," tallied the total initial costs of moving to a newer SQL Server instance at more than $4 million. However, it also estimated the benefits of such a move, suggesting an organization could see a 113% return on investment and get payback for expenses in 9.5 months.

The study claimed some benefits specifically for the IT department with a SQL Server migration. IT resource time improved 20 percent. Help desk calls were reduced 12 percent. In addition, security issues were reduced 11 percent vs. the older server instance, according to Forrester's study.

Modern App Requirements
Noel Yuhanna, a principal analyst at Forrester Research, claimed in a Webcast that organizations should consider that new types of apps, such as social networking apps and "real-time apps," may require faster database access, such as using in-memory types of relational database management systems. He also said that organizations running new line-of-business apps may have requirements to provision new database systems faster. He said that Forrester is seeing database systems scaling to 10 terabytes today. He recommended using "simplified" database systems and perhaps including support for harvesting unstructured data.

Organizations are starting to manage very large databases now, according to Yuhanna, so he recommended enabling automation to reduce overhead. He has observed one company managing more than 45,000 enterprise databases. While many organizations have doubled the number of database systems they have over the last five years, they haven't necessarily doubled the number of database administrators, he noted, so automation is one way to deal with the lack of help.

He recommended a database management system that can scale to meet application demand, since some applications used by organizations require 24 x 7 availability. Database management systems should support encryption without much effort, he added.

So far, the use of cloud-based database management systems is at around 25 percent, Yuhanna estimated.

The No. 1 issue among organizations using database management systems was system performance, according to Forrester's survey. That's an old issue, Yuhanna noted, but about 80 percent still saw it as the top concern today, per Forrester's survey.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.