4 min read

Beyond end-of-support: Seeing value in modernization

This post was authored by Tiffany Wissner, Senior Director, Product Marketing.

Today is the last day of extended support for SQL Server 2005. Starting tomorrow, companies running SQL Server 2005 will no longer receive security updates or hotfixes from Microsoft. We started on this journey eighteen months ago, with our first discussion on the end of support for SQL Server 2005, and sharing information about how to upgrade. If you haven’t migrated your SQL Server 2005 databases to a newer version of SQL Server, now is the time to put in place a plan for action.

While we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention that these customers will now run a much greater risk for business disruptions, increased maintenance costs and security and compliance issues, there is another hidden cost to running an older system that can potentially be much larger over time — lost opportunity.

In 2016, the world looks much different than it did in 2005. With our smart mobile devices, much more powerful hardware, intelligent applications and cloud computing, an older database solution can be a limiting factor to an organization’s competitiveness. Modern systems like SQL Server 2014 or the soon-to-be-released SQL Server 2016 give organizations the flexibility to deploy on-premises or in the cloud, to manage modern apps and create a host of business scenarios that simply weren’t possible a decade ago.

“From our unique vantage point of successfully running SQL Server modernization programs for diverse customers two things clearly stood out. First of all, modernization comes with better performance and scalability. Secondly modernization drives a culture change. Companies start treating data as an asset and the SQL Server ecosystem helps them to make smarter decisions with actionable insights with an immediate positive business impact, with the integration of Power BI, R Server, Azure Machine Learning and Cortana giving insights that were previously not available.” – Debu Dasgupta, Vice President of Technology and Microsoft Evangelist, Cognizant Technology Solutions

Recognizing this, many companies have already undertaken their upgrades from SQL Server 2005 to more modern platforms. We recently worked with Spiceworks to survey hundreds of these customers to understand where they were in the process, which platforms they were migrating to, obstacles, costs and other factors. The report found that the majority of SQL Server 2005 customers are either fully or partly migrated.  With data on fellow customers’ upgrade plans and durations, and the benefits these customers achieved through upgrade, it is a great read for companies still considering the move.

Case in point: Pact Group

A SQL Server upgrade can be a powerful business differentiator. Australian packaging manufacturer Pact Group has acquired 44 companies since 2002, and has a five-year plan to continue its aggressive expansion — averaging four new acquisitions each year.

To facilitate the plan, Pact has moved its SAP stack, which was running older Oracle and SQL Server databases, into Microsoft Azure, Windows Server 2012 R2 and SQL Server 2014, resulting in several benefits. For one, they’re now working under a consumption-based model hosted on Microsoft Azure, providing massive scalability and enabling them to incorporate acquisitions without the associated cost of provisioning on-premises IT.

The company’s ability to spin up virtual machines has gone from two weeks to just minutes. Now Pact can respond quickly with near-unlimited capacity when managing a merger, then scale back when it’s complete, paying only for what they use. Further, each of Pact’s main platforms in now mirrored in the cloud, giving them a true disaster recovery solution for the first time. They’ve also reduced database storage needs by 75%, from 10 terabytes to 2.5 terabytes.

Looking ahead, the company is exploring the platform’s ability to integrate with a variety of sensors, an IoT approach with the potential to create valuable new efficiencies and insights.

The path forward

What Pact has been able to accomplish would not have been feasible if they’d remained on their legacy, on-premises SAP systems powered by older versions of SQL Server, Windows Server and Oracle. By upgrading its systems, the company has literally enabled its own business plan, put itself on the path for continued growth, and opened the door for new possibilities down the road.

Not every company is a large multinational like Pact, but the benefits of elasticity, agility and connectivity that enables a rich new flow of data are largely the same for organizations of all shapes and sizes. And of course security and compliance are important concerns wherever you do business.

With all this in mind, Microsoft strongly encourages customers currently using SQL Server 2005, SQL Server 2008 or SQL Server 2008 R2 (the latter two will sunset in 2019) to review their technology needs and see how an upgrade to a modern database platform can make a real transformation in your business.

For a deeper run-down of the benefits of SQL Server 2014, take a look at a blog post from Takeshi Numoto, Corporate Vice President of Cloud + Enterprise Marketing from last October.

If you’re just getting started, these informational blog posts will serve as great resources. You can also visit the SQL Server 2005 upgrade page for more information on planning and executing your migration, along with options for your new database strategy. The analyst firm Directions on Microsoft has also issued a paper on planning your data platform upgrade: “Migrating from SQL Server 2005,” available here.

As always, Microsoft and our partners are still here to help you complete your migrations. Many of our partners have been helping customers modernize their SQL Server install base, and they say customers are recognizing new value in their updated solutions.

“We see the EoS of SQL Server 2005 as a big opportunity for large organizations. Data being the fabric of the digital enterprise, modernization starts with the designing the data layer as appropriate on the cloud or on to the latest on-premises solutions. We are excited about our partnership with Microsoft on SQL Server 2005 modernization program to help large enterprises create a digital data farm migration roadmap.” – Eravi Gopan, Head, Microsoft BU, WIPRO LTD