Why Companies Procrastinate Over SQL Server Upgrades
Ask any Database Administrator about why organizations large and small tend to procrastinate about SQL Server upgrades. And you’ll hear similar replies: “upgrades are painful, upgrades are difficult.” Or, “everything breaks.” So, instead of upgrading, they ignore it until it creates a roadblock.
Fortified Data’s, Senior Consultant, Matt Gallentine has heard it all. “Despite there being an end of life to each version of SQL Server that is released, a lot of companies tend to leave their upgrades until the last minute, and that means that they’re approaching the point where it will no longer be supported in any way by Microsoft. Being left without any security patches, or any major bug or performance fixes is a vulnerable place to be – especially with security being such a big focus in the tech world.”
Further, there are consequences for skipped or last-minute upgrades. To be specific, this includes the possibility of running out of extended support. Unfortunately, this is not a good place to be with news data breaches appearing in headlines every day.
The Key to Success Is Planning Ahead for a SQL Server Upgrade
Extended support for the SQL Server 2012 is ending in about 10 months. So, in July 2022, an enterprise with any found major security flaw or vulnerability within that SQL Server version must migrate off it. This is because Microsoft will not be creating a patch for it.
That can lead to a lot of vulnerabilities and open an avenue for substantial problems. By planning ahead, you can avoid a wide range of major issues.
“Sometimes it’s like doing your tax returns,” Gallentine says. “It’s not always something you look forward to, but you know that if you wait until the night before they are due, you’re going to make mistakes and leave dollars on the table. But if you plan ahead, you’ll be more successful and feel more confident about the future.”
You should upgrade any version of SQL Server that you know is going away. Or upgrade if you are planning to decommission. This move is worthwhile to avoid risks and unnecessary vulnerabilities. The sooner you plan ahead for the upgrade, the smoother and more successful it will go.
Proactive vs. Reactive SQL Server Upgrades
There may be some readers of this blog who are question upgrading. For example, they may think “But I’m happy with the version I have, why do I have to take the time to upgrade it?”
The answer really comes down to security and protection for your organization. Also, your SQL Server approaches its end-of-life date or the end of mainstream support date is important.
It’s understandable that you may like the version you have. And after going through a prior upgrade or installation, you’re hesitant to go through this upgrade. However, this may lead to changes. But with a known end date of any version of SQL Server (standard or enterprise edition), you have time to plan. So, take full advantage of it and prepare yourself. Also, proactively get everything set up now so that transitioning to the new version of SQL Server is not last minute.
As a result, this will allow time for testing and determining the best architecture, and if there needs to be any changes.
In general, a rushed, reactive approach too close to the end date of a specific version of SQL Server, leads to the potential for mistakes. Also, it could lead to not having enough time to test to make sure everything is going to perform without any problems.
Don’t Get to The Point Where You Are Now Out of Support for Your Version of SQL Server
In general, a professional can clean your teeth every six months (even if it is inconvenient) to avoid larger issues down the road. Thus, a SQL Server out of support is worse than a cavity. If your organization has any detected bugs or security flaws, it is left high and dry with no means to fix that security vulnerability. However, you can do this by going to a new version. Then, Microsoft would patch and fix those security vulnerabilities and pushing those patches out to you.
“We’ll hear that upgrades are going to be too much work, or it’s going to be too much time with their application offline, but those concerns are often overstated and don’t come close to the pain that security breaches can cause. All of which can be easily avoided with an upgrade”, Gallentine adds.
SQL Server Upgrades Aren’t Really That Hard
Despite all of the concern about difficulty and hours offline, the reality is a much brighter picture. Fortified Data’s experts find that you can do an SQL Server upgrades quickly and easily. With time and planning, upgrades are virtually free of any risk of performance problems after the migration.
“That’s why it’s critical to start thinking about having those conversations earlier, rather than letting it go, or waiting until you’re worried about audit violations,” says Gallentine.
Fortified Data Is Ready When You Are (and even when you aren’t)
Fortified can help with any of your SQL Server upgrade needs. The Enterprise Data Services that Fortified features include preparing you for the end of extended support for SQL Server 2012.
We understand upgrades may not be your favorite thing to do. But it’s our bread-and-butter and our team of experienced DBAs are here and ready to help you plan ahead and ensure that it’s never a challenging or painful process in meeting the needs of any enterprise, no matter the size.