4-page Case Study
Posted: 8/26/2010
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U.S. Department of Defense U.S. Department of Defense Migrates from Oracle to SQL Server 2008 for Greater Reliability and Security, While Lowering Costs

A division of the U.S. Department of Defense needed to upgrade a mission-critical software application to achieve higher cost savings, better availability, and improved reliability for their computer systems, including those supporting strategic defense programs.

Driven primarily by security and reliability concerns, the IT department replaced an Oracle database system with Microsoft SQL Server 2008 to save significant taxpayer and government dollars, provide a higher level of security, and operate a fully streamlined IT platform. By migrating to Microsoft SQL Server 2008, the Department of Defense found a solution to improve the applications effectiveness across global units. The new system delivered more robust security capabilities, reduced both software and hardware support requirements, and lowered costs while providing a more reliable system to support national defense objectives.


The U.S. Department of Defense maintains an IT landscape that must adhere to the highest level of security standards as the infrastructure supports strategically vital sites all around the globe. Extensive background checks and intensive investigations are conducted before anyone can enter these sites, as data security is a top priority and must meet rigid standards.

* The migration to SQL Server 2008 improved the effectiveness of our operations. The Department of Defense is not a bottom-line, profit driven organization. Anything we can do to save the taxpayer a dollar or two, we want to do. By migrating to SQL Server 2008, we were saving taxpayer dollars. *

Senior IT Project Manager, Department of Defense
The legacy Oracle database software was not meeting these security demands. The Department of Defense wanted to find a cost-effective, high-performance and secure solution for the management of a mission-critical application that holds all the values for the position status of military space vehicles (satellites), one that would be simple to manage and maintain.

Improving an inefficient legacy system was crucial to conforming to constantly increasing security requirements. The IT department was tasked with procuring a faster, more secure system that would ensure 24/7 system availability and higher reliability.

“The solution needs to have the reliability and maintainability that the Department of Defense requires for its databases. We can have no downtime. There are times when these databases need to be counted on at a moment’s notice” states the Department’s Senior IT Project Manager who wished to remain anonymous.

The IT department could no longer effectively maintain the existing systems that needed to support many remote locations around the globe. Meeting the Department of Defense security standards became an increasing challenge. The labor-intensive and time-consuming support tasks for the legacy Oracle database system were no longer acceptable.

Replacing the legacy system with a new database was the best option. To avoid extensive and lengthy patch management cycles and associated down time, the IT team decided to pursue a “brand-new, clean slate” approach than would address all the security and support challenges.

In order to obtain an unbiased opinion, the Department of Defense hired an outside vendor, a global systems integrator, to conduct an assessment of several database solutions, and make a recommendation.

The IT team requested a “commercial, off-the-shelf” database system that would deliver all the required improvements and meet the stringent demands of scalability, reliability and security.

The business requirements called for a database system that could be extended to other applications, in addition to the large application that was initially migrated. The Senior IT Project Manager states: “We wanted to have the commercial, off-the-shelf expertise for other applications. There are only 3 major database systems (Oracle, Sybase, and Microsoft SQL Server), and we could have chosen any of the three.”

The outside vendor performed an extensive analysis, offering the Department of Defense several choices as an alternative to the outdated database systems that were no longer functional at the security level the Department of Defense demanded.

* The solution needs to have the reliability and maintainability that the Department of Defense requires for its databases. We can have no downtime. There are times when these databases need to be counted on at a moment’s notice. *

Senior IT Project Manager, Department of Defense
The project team reviewed the recommended choices, and conducted additional research to determine which new database system would meet all the requirements.


After a careful analysis of the vendor’s recommendations, the Department of Defense chose Microsoft SQL Server 2008 because it best satisfied the reliability and security requirements, while saving the government significant financial resources.

Preparation for the migration included pre-planning meetings with all key decision-makers and stakeholders in the government to determine the best approach to the migration. The project timeline and implementation dates were aligned with the Department of Defense objectives around continuity and other critical success factors. It was imperative that the migration project succeed without any service interruptions.

Thus, risk assessment was an important step in migration planning. The Department’s IT staff teamed with Microsoft partners to identify any possible problems and develop mitigation procedures to manage risks related to both hardware and software.

The Department of Defense project team knew SQL Server 2008 offered comprehensive security features that served the large global customer base they needed to support. The security options were easy to set up, and did not require in-depth configuration to interface with the new computer system.

According to the Senior IT Project Manager, a complete trust in Microsoft’s support was essential: “We knew if any issues occurred, we could reach back, call someone, and get the correct answer. We would not have to struggle in the middle of the night to get a database back up and running.”

The Microsoft SQL Server 2008 tools proved to be an invaluable resource for the team planning and executing the migration project. Using these tools, the team checked all the parameters and database configurations. It was necessary to avoid any technical difficulties interfering with a successful systems migration. The use of SQL Server 2008 migration tools made the migration seamless, as the IT staff was able to easily plan for potential problems.

* Using the SQL Server 2008 migration tools, [the migration] was seamless, and we had a lot fewer issues to clean up afterwards. We knew exactly what steps to take to mitigate any potential problems. *

Senior IT Project Manager, Department of Defense
The new database system was initially tested in an off-line network, preventing interference with the production legacy system. The subsequent testing was conducted by an outside vendor, Independent Verification and Validation Group, Inc. (IV&V). The IV&V’s external testing results showed all the government’s guidelines and goals were successfully achieved with the new database system.

The final step in system testing was a user acceptance check with the client, the Operations Floor. They put the new system through a stress test, using the application, real time data, test parameters, and database functionalities to prove everything matched the old system with precision. Once all the testing was completed, and the Operations Floor approved the new system, the old legacy system was shut down.

The Department of Defense chose not to change the basic functionality of the old legacy database. The Senior IT Project Manager states: “When we implemented SQL Server 2008, we tried not to change the basic functionality of the database. This (decision) produced a seamless transition.”

Converting the application and the data without any changes to the new Microsoft SQL Server 2008 database contributed to the stability and reliability of the system.

During the migration process, all business units maintained 24/7 access to mission-critical applications and databases. This was a major achievement aligned with the migration requirements established by the Department of Defense.

The migration project was successfully completed in a very narrow timeframe due largely to the support from Microsoft during the project’s planning and risk-assessment phase.

The clients of the Department of Defense now have access to a flexible application that is available globally, with the reliability and availability needed for supporting mission-critical national defense systems.


After the migration, the Department of Defense verified that both software and hardware costs were reduced.

Microsoft SQL Server 2008 improved security for a mission-critical application to a much higher level by increasing the Department’s

* It (SQL Server 2008) streamlined our inefficient, old legacy systems. The new system is much more in line with our business needs, and more effective. It is more robust, and only requires minimum computer support, and minimum hardware. It runs cleaner, faster, and it is a major technological step forward for us using this database. *

Senior IT Project Manager, Department of Defense
ability to protect global clients against viruses, spyware, spam and Internet-based threats. In addition, the Department of Defense manages the new database systems’ health with less overhead, minimal support efforts, and fewer staff resources.

Once the migration was finished, the IT department determined that the new servers consumed significantly less power than the original servers. The lowered hardware energy consumption is contributing to the Department of Defense’s improved “green” factor. Servers are now running effectively with minimal or no impact on the environment. Furthermore, the diminished consumption of resources is contributing to a lower total cost of ownership.

As an additional benefit of migration, business agility was boosted by higher data availability, providing the business units with the ability to respond quickly to client requests, and enabling them to become more flexible and adaptable. They are able to make critical decisions faster, and deliver rapid results to their worldwide locations.

Global sites now gain access to a reliable system 24/7 without experiencing any downtime. The reliability and availability of the system has translated into an exponential increase in productivity for the Department of Defense.

The Senior IT Project Manager concludes: “(SQL Server 2008) streamlined our inefficient, old legacy systems. The new system is much more in line with our business needs, and more effective. It is more robust, and only requires minimum computer support, and minimum hardware. It runs cleaner, faster, and it is a major technological step forward for us using this database.”

Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2

Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 delivers higher scalability for mission-critical environments, more efficient IT, and expanded reporting and analytics through self-service business intelligence.

For more information about Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2, go to:


For More Information

For more information about Microsoft products and services, call the Microsoft Sales Information Center at (800) 426-9400. In Canada, call the Microsoft Canada Information Centre at (877) 568-2495. Customers in the United States and Canada who are deaf or hard-of-hearing can reach Microsoft text telephone (TTY/TDD) services at (800) 892-5234. Outside the 50 United States and Canada, please contact your local Microsoft subsidiary. To access information using the World Wide Web, go to:


This case study is for informational purposes only. MICROSOFT MAKES NO WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, IN THIS SUMMARY.
Solution Overview

Organization Size: 718000 employees

Organization Profile

A division of the U.S. Department of Defense

Business Situation

The legacy Oracle database system was outdated, unwieldy, and no longer operational for the organization. The IT department also needed greater security capabilities for their mission-critical applications with the new database system.


The U.S. Department of Defense decided to migrate their legacy systems, operating on an Oracle database, to a Microsoft SQL Server 2008 platform.


  • Improved security, reliability and maintainability of mission-critical systems to meet the Department of Defense strategic objectives
  • Savings of taxpayer dollars and lower government IT expenditures
  • Cleaner, faster, more robust computer systems, requiring minimal hardware and software support

Software and Services
  • Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Enterprise
  • Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Analysis Services
  • Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Reporting Services

Vertical Industries
National Government Agencies

United States

Business Need
Mission Critical