Monthly Archives: August 2018

  • SQL Server 2008 End Of Life - Backing Up to Azure

    sql support life azure

    Technology moves fast, so much so that the newest versions of software often become out of date in a matter of a few years. Older versions of Microsoft products can be daunting to manage from a support and licensing perspective. While 2008 versions of Microsoft products were innovative and new at the time, some of these products are now nearing the end of their support life. SQL Server 2008 is now several versions back so many clients are wondering what to do for their upgrades. Other SQL Server customers who still retain databases on the 2008 version may not even have decided on their precise upgrade plans. Here's the latest news from Microsoft which may assist with decisions regarding SQL Server 2008.

    Support Concerns

    Licensing and support for SQL Server 2008 was originally intended to last 10 years. We are now into that end-of-life support so what are the options for organizations still running databases on this now decade-old version?

    SQL Server 2008 brought a number of new innovations to the marketplace for databases. These new features were incredibly useful for database development at the time, so much so that many businesses have not needed to upgrade some of their databases to the newest versions. In fact, some of these clients still on the 2008 platform may not feel there is an immediate need to upgrade their databases. There may be other factors involved with such a decision such as budgetary concerns. Organizations may still be trying to determine how to upgrade their databases to the latest SQL server platform and may need more time to make all the decisions necessary.

    However, Microsoft does intend for support of SQL Server 2008 to end. This means that software and security updates will no longer be available after the support life for this product ends. While organizations are not necessarily caught flat-footed with this reality, actually completing the upgrades before the end of licensing support may well prove daunting to some organizations.

    Originally, Microsoft planned to deal with end-of-life support issues regarding products such as SQL Server 2008 with a Premium Assurance Program which was implemented last year. This program was intended to add six years of support licensing to the current ten-year limit. The intention was to provide continued compliance and security to existing databases though at an increased cost of five percent which would have maxed out at twelve percent over current licensing costs.

    Previously Existing Options

    But Microsoft has made a more recent change that affects even this Premium Assurance Program with a recent announcement. Previously, there were several options available for organizations choosing to continue using this older version of the SQL server platform. Options for SQL Server 2008 customers who wanted to remain on this version ranged from simply accepting that there would be no future security updates. The downside of this option is that databases may no longer be compliant in various industry requirements.

    Another available option has been to simply upgrade to a newer version of SQL though at some costs unless an organization already used a product assurance program. But with this option, businesses choosing to upgrade the 2008 version might face additional costs with licensing or further upgrade support while not being entirely prepared for such a change for some databases.

    The last option for current business and organizational clients of SQL Server 2008 has been to purchase a custom support license which can also be costly. This third option requires that companies provide a migration plan of some sort to Microsoft rather than keeping open-ended support available for an indeterminate amount of time when newer versions provide better solutions.

    The Latest Option: Cloud Migration with Free Security Support

    Since there are any number of detrimental effects from remaining on the 2008 SQL version, Microsoft has chosen to offer yet another option which many businesses may find extremely helpful. The recent announcement by Microsoft has been to allow product platforms like SQL Server 2008 to be migrated to Azure Cloud Services. Essentially, Microsoft is offering organizations the opportunity to remain under software support for the 2008 version until 2022 if the workload is migrated to Azure Cloud Services. The actual security support and updates are free of charge on the cloud platform and does not require that a company provide a migration or upgrade plan.

    The opportunity is quite useful for many businesses and organizations as this even allows them to use Azure stack which is Microsoft's version of the on-premise cloud system. This option is quite a flexible and useful offer for many businesses and a way for them to move into cloud computing even with this older SQL version. Microsoft is even allowing those customers who purchased the Premium Assurance Program to migrate into the Azure cloud platform on a grandfathered basis since this plan will be discontinued.

    Additional Benefits

    Now corporate and organizational customer can take advantage of Azure Cloud Services for older databases. All Azure features will be available that are relevant to SQL Server 2008. Security across the environment is consistent and provides telemetry for any intrusions. A myriad of backup features are additionally available which can also cut costs as customers look to upgrade these databases to newer versions. Workloads can be more easily managed and even scaled over the next several years while migration planning can continue.

    Additionally, the hardware for currently hosted SQL Server 2008 databases may be aging out of their lifecycles. Consequently, hardware replacement will create higher costs for new equipment, continued security and other business consistency concerns. Azure provides a less expensive way to maintain aging databases until they can be migrated to newer platform versions. Instead of struggling along with both hardware and software concerns, businesses now have the option of implementing Azure versions of their SQL databases where the hardware is no longer a concern since the cloud service keeps all of the instances up-to-date and secured. Business consistency is also addressed when migrating to Azure for this additional time period of support. Azure provides stable backup systems and support for additional security compliance needs.

    With all the additional benefits of Azure cloud services, SQL Server 2008 customers will find that implementing a workload migration to this new option can be highly beneficial as their decisions about upgrades are made over the next several years. Since the security support will remain free, there is an important savings already built into using Azure cloud services to host these older databases. Azure provides business consistency with less concern for hardware changes as well as a high level of cloud-based features which can be beneficial in assisting with upgrades to newer database platforms. Companies and organizations can easily find that their migration concerns are eased by shifting SQL Server 2008 workloads into the Azure cloud. Since Microsoft's cloud services through Azure are proven to already cut costs, Microsoft has generously offered a highly beneficial means of retaining security support for several years to come, one which is far less expensive compared to other immediate options and concerns.

    If you are currently running an outdated version of Microsoft SQL Server and want to explore options, you don't want to leave anything to chance. Contact the Microsoft licensing experts at Royal Discount - your source for all things MS SQL.

  • How To Install SQL Server 2017 (Complete Guide)

    sql server 2017 install guide
    Microsoft SQL 2017 is the latest version for Microsoft's flagship database server platform. This latest version of the SQL server software boasts some newer features which provide a wider range of performance, security and other options which should be explored with upgrades in mind. Let's take a look at the installation process for SQL server 2017 and then some of the options which are available during installation as well as those that can be leveraged to gain further insights regarding improvements with the 2017 version.

    1. Choose an Installation Path

    There are three main installation paths which you can follow to begin making use of SQL 2017.

    • A downloaded trial version can be used for 180 days before Microsoft requires that you purchase either a Standard or Enterprise license. For many people exploring the latest version of SQL server, this will be plenty of time to examine exactly what an upgrade to the 2017 version will require.
    • However, there is a developer version which is available for free also including all of the options that a trial version offers. Using the developer version allows for an indefinite period of time to fully learn and appreciate all that is offered in the latest version of SQL server.
    • Lastly, there is a fully free version, but it does not offer the entire scope of features so many high-end users will not find it valuable to test, develop or plan for an upgrade.

    For the reasons already mentioned, the developer version may be the best choice for an initial installation path so that all of the improvements can be fully explored without worrying over the end of a trial-period. This particular version will also allow for workload testing as well as use of all business intelligence and programming features. The only drawback to the developer version is that it cannot be used in a production environment.

    When installing SQL server 2017 it is important to understand that there are tools which are no longer available during the initial installation phase. As such, you may find that you will need additional time install more tools on top of the database engine and the various options chosen. For instance, SQL Reporting Services are installed separately as are the SQL Server Management Tools and SQL Server Data Tools (more about some of these are discussed further along in this post).

    2. Configure Database Options

    Once you begin an installation, there will be choices as to which initial licensing you will be using. For the sake of this article, let's consider that the developer version is being used so that all of the available options can be considered. Beyond the licensing choice, there will be a number of options to be considered, among which are the following:

    • Replication which can be used to emulate how the database will be managed including backup and mirroring. This is an important choice to consider but it is not specifically new to most database administrators.
    • Machine learning services (In-Database)
    • Installation of R and/or Python (both can now be installed on the same server instance) for programming enhancements, which also lends itself to this developer version.
    • Which query options will be used for searches including full-text or semantic extractions.
    • Data Quality Services which are important for standardizing and preventing duplication of data. This option is also important for implementing a data scale-out master with workers across several servers or instances.
    • Polybase options are available at this point of the installation which can allow for NoSQL queries.
    • Analysis services options for Business Intelligence integration are also in the mix during the installation.

    3. Setup Additional Features & Reporting

    Most of the main features have now been offered as choices during the installation, but there are additional options which can be considered based on needs. Advancing to the next steps in the insulation will provide choices for these options:

    • Client tools are available for backward compatibility with earlier SQL versions in relationship to Data Quality Services. Again, these are services which can be important when using master and worker instances across several servers.
    • SDK resources for developers are also available for installation which are additionally useful in the developer version in order to understand all the programmatic, security and performance improvement prior to using the 2017 version in production mode.
    • Distributed Relay is a feature available that is very much like the SQL profiler, except it can be distributed over multiple servers. This is used in much the same way to capture traces for security and performance when gathering information for upgrades and testing. Additionally, this is where you want to make considerations regarding this tool since it allows you to simulate workloads to further advance understanding of development and upgrade issues.
    • SQL client connectivity SDK is available for installation that provides OLEDB and ODBC connections using programming languages including .Net, Java, PHP and others.
    • Master Data Services provides the means to organize important data into models while creating rules for access and control.

    4. Configure Instances & Security

    It is important to remember that multiple instances of SQL can be used on the same server which is critical for a variety of best practices development on the SQL Server 2017 platform. Among the considerations which can be simulated are workloads, replications versus mirroring, or the separation of instances while measuring performance impact.

    In regard to security issues, the developer mode also includes the full options for SQL server authentication within Windows. Hammering out all security issues is important to achieve before making the shift to the newer SQL version and the developer version includes all of the authentication options. Windows account authentication in SQL is available to implement as is the mixed mode which is a feature allowing for the creation of logins and passwords within the SQL server environment.

    5. Setup Data Directories & Filestream

    While you are finalizing all of your decisions with your installation, be sure to check all of the data directories. It is here that you can choose the locations of your various data files and log files. A best practice is to place these various types of files on different drives in order to ensure top performance and implement good security as well as provide for effective disaster recovery planning.

    There are a few other considerations to be made while installing SQL server 2017. FILESTREAM provides for storage of non-structured data within databases. If you are looking for ways to operate in data mining mode then you will be interested in using the Analysis Services configuration which provides for creation of fast queries and report results. When considering data mining modes, you must choose between tabular and multidimensional, the former being more memory intensive. If you have plenty of storage space then multidimensional mode may be the best choice since it has the least performance impact.

    6. Install SQL Server Management Tools

    After installing the main database server engine, you will need to go back to the setup window and choose to install the SQL Server Management Studio which can further assist with tuning an SQL instance. Additionally, you can consider installing SQL Server Data Tools which are important for using Business Intelligence tools, a major plus to the newer Microsoft SQL server platforms, especially the 2017 version.

    Before installing SQL Server 2017 it is important to plan and understand what you need to accomplish with an initial installation of the newest version. The mentioned options and features in this article are meant to be considerations as a guideline for development and planning new SQL instances as well as migration of existing databases from previous versions. Making use of all the available tools for planning are as important as considering what new features can be implemented for database improvements.

    To learn more about Microsoft SQL Server, contact our experts at or call 1-877-292-7112 today and get a free licensing consultation.