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SQL Server 2005 end of life: What are the next steps for enterprise users?

Recently, companies across a range of industries have had to deal with the end of support for several mission-critical programs and operating systems. From Windows XP to Windows Server 2003, migration processes have been a common initiative for businesses.

Now, another widely utilized system is reaching end of life. Microsoft announced last year that it would cease supporting SQL Server 2005 in April. As that deadline approaches, many enterprise IT leaders and stakeholders are wondering what should be included in next steps.

End of life: April 2016

In January 2016, ITWorldCanada reported that SQL Server 2005 was still being utilized by an estimated 30 percent of Canadian organizations. This illustrates the popularity of the platform, despite its impending end of life.

“One in six Windows Server 2003 installations still utilizes SQL Server 2005.”

According to Microsoft, support will end for this version of SQL Server in mid-April 2016.

“If you are still running SQL Server 2005 after April 12, 2016, you will no longer receive security updates,” Microsoft’s website stated.

In other words, while the program will still function after the specified date, Microsoft will no longer issue patches to address any discovered exploitable vulnerabilities. For this reason, it’s in enterprises’ best interest – as well as in the best interest of their overall security – to update their systems to a newer, supported platform.

“Something of a jalopy”

Eduard Davidzhan, Microsoft platform marketing manager, told ITWorldCanada that after more than a decade in usage, SQL Server 2005 has become outdated and would simply be too expensive to maintain. In this way, Davidzhan equated the system with “something of a jalopy.”

In spite of it being “like an old car,” as Davidzhan told ITWorldCanada, the platform is still in place within a number of organizations. AppZero CEO Greg O’Connor told CIO Magazine that an estimated one in six Windows Server 2003 installations still utilizes SQL Server 2005.

“Many businesses continue to use the earlier software because it does the same job as the newer model, and for a lower price, but without realizing the cost of an emergency could eventually exceed their initial savings,” ITWorldCanada pointed out.

As the average cost of a data breach is currently $3.8 million – a 23 percent increase from 2013, according to IBM research –  it’s clear that the risk likely outweighs the benefits in the case of SQL Server 2005.

Especially as its end of life draws nearer, SQL Server 2005 is quickly being considered the jalopy of Microsoft management systems. Especially as its end of life draws nearer, SQL Server 2005 is quickly being considered the jalopy of Microsoft management systems.

Executives: Factors to keep in mind with migration

If your organization still has SQL Server 2005 in place, there are a few important factors to keep in mind in the coming months.

CIO Magazine contributor Andy Patrizio pointed out that if your company has already been in the process of updating its outdated Server 2003, you may be in luck.

“The Server 2003 upgrade process forced many firms to take a complete look at everything they had – not just the server operating system – and most took the opportunity to do significant system-wide upgrades,” Patrizio wrote. “So as old Server 2003 instances were retired, so were SQL Server 2005 installs.”

In addition, Carl Olofson, IDC research vice president for data management software, pointed out that in many cases, SQL Server 2005 isn’t supporting critical workloads. Instead, it’s likely leveraged on a non-mission-critical server generating background reports.

However, those that haven’t begun the updating process yet – either for Server 2003 or to replace SQL Server 2005 – should understand that migration will take some time. O’Connor noted that migration away from SQL Server 2005 will likely remain a top priority for several years, especially for businesses that might have waited until the last minute since the process may take longer than decision-makers initially thought.

Next steps for migration

Thankfully, businesses aren’t on their own when it comes to migration. Patrizio noted that tools including Microsoft’s SQL Server Upgrade Advisor and Installation Center can help streamline the process and ensure a successful move.

Microsoft is also offering trials of SQL Server 2014 and Azure SQL Database through its website.

For more details about SQL Server migration, visit Microsoft’s website.

In addition, it can be helpful to speak with an expert technology consultant at iT1 Source. iT1 is a Microsoft partner, and can address your company’s enterprise needs. To find out more, contact us today.

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