How does the official end of support for SQL Server 2005 affect companies using Reporting Services, Analysis Services and other BI features?
I was recently interviewed for a CIO Magazine article by freelance writer Andy Patrizio about what the end of support means for CIOs. Thanks to the SQL Server marketing team for including Data Platform MVPs to represent the product. A link to the article is included at the end of this post. By one estimate, there are 13 to 15 million Windows Server 2003 machines currently in use and one-in-six have some edition of SQL Server 2005 installed. That’s at least two million SQL Server 2005 instances that will no longer receive support or patching as of April, 2016. The rules of HIPAA and PCI will require these machines to be upgraded to remain in compliance, not to mention to be safe from malicious attacks and other security threats. Many of these legacy systems may be supporting old, special-purpose apps that just don’t scream for an upgrade. Production databases will benefit from the innumerable enhancements made to the product in the past ten years. For app-support databases, these can be consolidated and moved to centralized servers to replace all those old dusty machines in the custodial closet. Licensing costs apply to hardware and not to individual databases so consolidating old databases can usually save money up front.
My consulting clients often cite cost and stability as their primary reasons to stay on older database platforms. In the past, a common rule of thumb was is to remain one version behind and to skip every-other version, upgrading the last version only when a new version is released. This practice might make sense for Quicken, desktop Windows or for database software ten years ago but it doesn’t make much sense today when the advantages outweigh the risks. Sure, wait for the first service pack and by all means, do what you must to manage licensing costs, but mission-critical data systems are the heartbeat of modern business and need to perform and function.
There are many good reasons to upgrade from SQL Server 2005. Thinking specifically about BI and reporting capabilities, here are a few:
The BI platform began to mature in 2005 and really became fully-baked in the versions that followed. Reporting Services was introduced for SQL Server 2000. SSRS 2005 was more of the same but the best features like advanced charts, sparklines, gauges, KPI indicators and maps were added in 2008 R2. The product stabilized and drifted for the next few versions and now we’re going to see big improvements again in SQL Server 2016. If you don’t plan to move to SQL Server 2016 any time soon, at least upgrade SSRS to SQL Server 2008 R2. The report models and Report Builder 1.0 designer introduced in SQL Server 2005 didn’t last and have since been deprecated and replaced with more capable technologies. If you’re using this tool, stop and move on. It’s actually not supported now and simply won’t work in the future.
Analysis Services got a big architectural makeover in SQL Server 2005 but it took another three years to fully stabilize the product. SSIS also started in SQL Server 2005 but it took another full version to stabilize and mature. Outside of the BI tooling, the whole SQL Server relational engine is far more stable, secure, high performing and fault-tolerant.
The bottom-line is that you absolutely must upgrade your data platform at some point. The reasons are so obvious and self-evident that it almost doesn’t warrant further discussion. The question is not “if” but “when” and how often to upgrade. Moving to the most recent version of SQL Server may or may not be right for your business. An analysis of your specific requirements and the return you will get on your investment should help you decide whether you move to THE MOST RECENT version or A MORE RECENT version of SQL Server. Whatever the case, you need to have a plan and you should review, revise and execute that plan every few years. An end-of-support event like this is a good motivator and chance to put that plan into motion.
Read the full article in CIO Magazine
What end of support for SQL Server 2005 means for CIOs: http://www.cio.com/article/3007062/servers/what-end-of-support-for-sql-server-2005-means-for-cios.html