Oct 31 2023
Data Center

How to Know When It’s Time for a Microsoft SQL Server Upgrade

Each version of Microsoft’s SQL Server is distinct. Here’s what you need to know. 

Each version of Microsoft’s SQL Server comes with five years of full support, followed by five years of security-only updates. Here are five questions to ask before your next upgrade.

1. Should My Business Upgrade to the New Microsoft SQL Server Now or Stick with Security-Only Updates?

Microsoft’s investment in improving functionality lasts for the first five years. After that, SQL Server will receive only security updates and critical functionality updates (i.e., if a major function is broken). This “extended support” covers years six through 10 with optional support to year 13. If you’re doing fine as is, an upgrade can wait, but functionality will wane as time goes by.

2. Can I Extend the Life of a Microsoft SQL Server?

If legacy applications are running well, keeping old versions of Windows Server and SQL Server around beyond year 13 is fairly low risk However, it’s best to move everything possible off that server, such as other applications or databases that could be migrated to a newer version.

LEARN MORE: Get all the guidance you need to ensure a safe and effective switch to Windows 11.

3. What Issues Might Cause Problems with Old SQL Server Versions?

Capacity limits are the most important. Databases tend to grow, and if your organization hits the wall on database size, number of records or even disk space, that can be a hard stop. Poor performance can also creep up on IT managers. Everything may work well until resources run out of memory or CPU capacity. Keeping an eye on SQL and Windows limits, issues with Active Directory versions and overall resource consumption is important when extending the life beyond Microsoft’s recommendations.

4. What’s the Best Approach to Adopting a Newer Version?

In a world of virtual machines, the best approach is to spin up a new version of SQL Server on the latest version of Windows Server and migrate applications and data. This lets administrators fall back easily if needed and reduces risk during the migration. Managers will have to move all the data from the old database to the new one, which will take time and create a crimp in production, but it’s done only once or twice a decade.

5. Is a Non-Windows Platform a Better Option?

Consider a non-Windows platform only if you have very specific requirements that force an alternative path. SQL Server will always be harder to support and will lose some features when running on non-Windows platforms. If SQL Server is required, stick with Windows Server as the underlying platform if possible.

Click the banner below to learn best practices for creating a successful digital work experience.

Tavrius/Getty Images

Learn from Your Peers

What can you glean about security from other IT pros? Check out new CDW research and insight from our experts.