One DBA's Ongoing Search for Clarity in the Middle of Nowhere


Yet Another Andy Writing About SQL Server

Monday, July 14, 2014

End of Mainstream Support for Microsoft SQL Server 2008 and 2008 R2

@DBA_ANDY: A reminder to all #sqlserver peeps out there and *especially* to our clients: #sql2008 #sql20008R2 #Ntirety


What does this mean?

The key takeaway comes from this section of the MSDN blog:

For both SQL Server 2008 and SQL Server 2008 R2, Microsoft will continue to provide technical support which also includes security updates during the duration of extended support.  See the table below for extended support end date.  Non-security hotfixes for these versions will be offered only to customers who have an Extended Hotfix Support agreement.  Please refer to Extended Hotfix Support – Microsoft for more information.

Microsoft uses a standard cycle of mainstream support/extended support for almost all of their products, as described at

The biggest difference between mainstream and extended support is that during the extended support period the only true support that occurs for the product is security fixes (which very rarely occur for Microsoft SQL Server) and paid support (aka 1-900-Microsoft).  There are no service packs/cumulative updates/functionality changes/online support for a product once it enters extended support.  If you pay for an Extended Support contract (I can only think of one shop I have worked with that does pay for it) then you get some added support beyond security patches, but not much.

What do we need to do?

As described in the MSDN blog, you should plan to get off Microsoft SQL Server 2008 and 2008 R2 ASAP.  Generally Microsoft keeps a product in mainstream support until the second version after becomes GA (Generally Available).  In the case, now that SQL Server 2012 *and* 2014 are out, 2008/2008 R2 are now “minus two” versions and therefore have gone out of mainstream support.

In many cases it is possible to piggy back on top of a hardware refresh project or virtualization project to try to remove as much older SQL Server as you can.

I still run lots of even older versions – SQL Server 7.0/2000/2005 – why should I care?

Many people don’t care, but I have found it is a good general IT policy is to run everything – hardware/software/etc. – within vendor-supported timelines.  Not to make the vendors $$$, but for the supportability of the product *and* for the functionality/performance of the product.

Sure, your SQL Server 2005 on Windows Server 2003 runs your database (kind of) but what would you do if the server blew its motherboard – do you have a spare eight-year-old board in stock?  What about the software (Windows/SQL Server/etc.) – each new version adds increased performance options (compression, availability groups, etc.) and improved manageability (new dynamic management views (DMV’s), Extended Events, improved tools, etc.) – what could your staff be doing if they didn’t need to continue to hand-hold those old servers?

My application vendor doesn’t support SQL Server 2012/2014 yet!

This is one of the most cited catches to advancing software, especially database platforms.  In most cases it is possible to upgrade/replace your existing server with a new current version Windows Server/SQL Server and run your “unsupported” application databases under a down-level compatibility level (for example, running the database under SQL Server 20008 compatibility (100) on a SQL server 2012 (110) server).  This option needs to be tested before it is implemented.

Where am I going to get the $$$$ to do this?

I can’t help you much there other than to refer back to my earlier point about the old server and its eight-year-old motherboard – quantify the cost to your management of the system going down, possibly for days on end while you search eBay and Craigslist for replacement hardware
 (this isn’t a joke – I worked in one shop that had to go through this). 

This is where many DBA's (and DBA Managers) get hung up in the idea of SQL Server backups.

**IMPORTANT NOTE - you absolutely need to have SQL Server backups of all of your systems with only limited exceptions – even DEV and TEST since they are functionally PROD for your developers and QA staff**

Having said that, a wonderful stack of SQL Server backups shipped securely to your offsite facility doesn’t save you from the failed eight-year-old motherboard scenario – best case you could spin up a VMware/HyperV/etc. virtual server and restore the databases there, but do you still have all of the necessary Windows/SQL Server/service pack installation media to even install Windows 2003 SP2 and SQL Server 2005 SP4CU3 patched with MS12-070?


I wanted to put this out there because I know that for many of you SQL Server 2008 and 2008 R2 are your base versions – there are some SQL Server 2012’s out there (and more than a few 2005’s and 2000’s) but most servers I deal with day to day are 2008/2008 R2.

Pause and consider what I have said and work together with your team and your management in the coming months to get this done.

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