SQL Server end of support options

Applies to: yesSQL Server (all supported versions) - Windows only YesAzure SQL Managed Instance

This article explains your options for addressing SQL Server products that have reached end of support.

Understanding the SQL Server lifecycle

Each version of SQL Server is backed by a minimum of 10 years support, which includes five years in mainstream support, and five years in extended support:

  • Mainstream support includes functional, performance, scalability and security updates.
  • Extended support includes only security updates.

End of support (also sometimes known as end of life) indicates that a product has reached the end of its lifecycle, and servicing and support is no longer available for the product. For more information about the Microsoft Lifecycle, see Microsoft Lifecycle Policy.

Options

Once your SQL Server has reached the end of support stage, you can choose to:

For more information, guidance, and tools to plan and automate your upgrade or migration, see SQL Server 2005 end of support and SQL Server 2008 end of support.

End of support options

This article describes the benefits and considerations for each approach, as well as additional resources that can help guide your decision-making process.

Upgrade SQL Server

Once your SQL Server has reached the end of support, you can choose to upgrade to a newer and supported version of SQL Server. This gives you environmental consistency, allows you to use the latest feature set, and adopts the new version's support lifecycle.

Benefits

  • Latest technology: New SQL Server versions introduce innovations that include performance, scalability, and high-availability features, and improved security.
  • Control: You have the most control over features and scalability, because you manage both hardware and software.
  • Familiar environment: If you're upgrading from an older version of SQL Server, this is the most similar environment.
  • Wide applicability: Applicable for database applications of any kind, including OLTP systems and data warehousing.
  • Low risk for database applications: By maintaining the database compatibility to the same level as the legacy system, existing database applications are protected from functional and performance changes that can have detrimental effects. An application only needs to be fully re-certified when it needs to use features that are gated by a newer database compatibility setting. For more information, see Compatibility Certification.

Considerations

  • Cost: This approach requires the biggest up-front investment and the most ongoing management. You have to buy, maintain, and manage your own hardware and software.

  • Downtime: There could be downtime depending on your upgrade strategy. There is also an inherent risk of running into issues during an in-place upgrade process.

  • Complexity: If you're on Windows Server 2008 or Windows Server 2008 R2, you will also need to upgrade the OS as the newer versions of SQL Server may not be supported on those Windows versions. There is added risk during the OS upgrade process, so doing a side-by-side migration may be the more prudent, yet more costly, approach. In-place OS upgrades are not supported on failover cluster instances for Windows Server 2008 or Windows Server 2008 R2.

    Note

    Cluster OS rolling upgrades are available starting with Windows Server 2016.

Resources

Installation media
Upgrade SQL Server using Installation Wizard

What's new in:

Hardware requirements:

Supported version and edition upgrades:

Tools:

The following image provides an example of innovation over the various versions of SQL Server throughout the years:

25 years of SQL Server innovation

Extend support

If you're not ready to upgrade, and you're not ready to move to the cloud, you have the ability to purchase an Extended Security Updates subscription to receive Critical security updates for up to three years past the end of the support date.

Benefits

  • Application support: This is the best option if your application requires re-certification on a newer version of SQL Server. This is common for applications that are not using Compatibility Certification.
  • Consistent infrastructure: You don't have to change your infrastructure in any way.
  • Technical support: If you have Software Assurance, or another support plan, you can continue receiving technical support from Microsoft on your end-of-support SQL Server product. This is the only way to get support for SQL Server 2008 and SQL Server 2008 R2.
  • Time: This option is available for three years, giving you extra time to certify your applications.

Considerations

  • Limited availability: This option is only available to customers with Software Assurance or subscription licenses.
  • Cost: This option can prove costly, as Extended Security Updates are approximately 75% of the on-premises license cost annually.
  • Limited time-frame: This option is only available for three years, so you still need to upgrade or migrate at the end of the three-year period if you want to ensure your security and compliance.
  • No bug fixes: If you encounter a non-security bug with the product, Microsoft will not release a fix for it.
  • Limited support: Extended Security Updates do not include new features, functional improvements, or customer-requested fixes. Security fixes are limited to those rated as Critical by the Microsoft Security Response Center (MSRC).

Resources

Extended Security Updates (ESU) overview
Detailed ESU frequently asked questions
Extend support for free by migrating as-is to an Azure VM
Software Assurance

Azure Virtual Machine

Another option is to migrate your workload to an Azure Virtual Machine running SQL Server. You can migrate your system as-is and keep your end-of-support SQL Server, or you can upgrade to a newer version of SQL Server. This is best for migrations and applications requiring OS-level access. SQL Server virtual machines are lift-and-shift ready for existing applications that require fast migration to the cloud with minimal or no changes.

Benefits

  • Free Extended Security Updates: If you choose to keep your SQL Server as-is using SQL Server 2008 or SQL Server 2008 R2, you can get free Extended Security Updates for three years past the end of support date, even without having Software Assurance.
  • Cost-saving: You save the cost of hardware and server software, only paying for hourly usage.
  • Lift-and-shift: You can lift-and-shift your SQL Server and application infrastructure into the cloud with minimal or no changes.
  • Hosted environment: You will get the benefits of a hosted environment, such as offloading hardware, and software maintenance.
  • Automation: If you're on Windows Server 2008 R2 and greater, you will get the benefit of automated patching, and automated backups.
  • OS Control: You have control over the operating system environment, but with the familiar feature set of SQL Server.
  • Rapid deployment: You can quickly deploy from a library of virtual machine images.
  • License mobility: You can bring your license, allowing you to decrease operating cost.
  • High availability: Not only do you benefit from the built-in virtual machine availability by the Azure infrastructure boasting up to 99.99% availability, but you can also take advantage of SQL Server high availability options such as failover cluster instances and Always On availability groups.
  • Low risk for database applications: By maintaining the database compatibility to the same level as the legacy databases, existing database applications are protected from functional and performance changes that can have detrimental effects. An application only needs to be fully re-certified when it needs to use features that are gated by a newer database compatibility setting. For more information, see Compatibility Certification.

Considerations

  • Manageability: You still have to manage both SQL Server and operating system software.
  • Networking: You have to configure the virtual machine to integrate with your networking and Active Directory infrastructure, which is an added layer of complexity.
  • Shared storage FCI: Azure virtual machines only support failover cluster instances using Storage Spaces Direct or Premium File Shares, and do not support a failover cluster instance using shared storage. As such, Azure virtual machines only support failover cluster instances when using Windows Server 2012 or greater.
  • Scalability downtime: There is downtime while changing the CPU and storage resources.
  • Size limitation: Although the SQL Server instance can support as many databases as needed, the cumulative total of all databases for a single instance of SQL Server is 256 TB, as opposed to 524 PB for an on-premises SQL Server.

Resources

SQL Server VM overview
Choosing an Azure SQL option
Migrate SQL Server to an Azure VM
Free Extended Security Updates (ESUs) for migrating to Azure as-is
Extended Security Updates (ESU) overview
Detailed ESU frequently asked questions
SQL virtual machine automated patching
SQL virtual machine automated backup
SQL virtual machine high availability
SQL virtual machine frequently asked questions

Azure SQL Database single database

If you want to offload maintenance, reduce costs, and eliminate the need to upgrade in the future, you can move your workload to Azure SQL Database single database. This option is best for modern cloud applications that want to use the latest stable SQL Server Database Engine features and have time constraints in development and marketing.

Benefits

  • Cost: Single database can be cost-effective, since hardware, software, and maintenance is offloaded, and you can pay for usage by the second or the hour.
  • Flexibility: Single database is particularly well suited for cloud-designed applications when developer productivity and fast time-to-market solutions are critical, or that have require external access.
  • Common features: The most commonly used SQL Server Database Engine features are available, but not as many as for SQL Managed Instance.
  • Rapid deployment: You can quickly deploy a single database.
  • Scalability: You can quickly and easily scale up and down as needed for your business, providing additional cost-saving benefits.
  • Availability: The cost of the service includes both storage and high availability, with 99.995% availability guaranteed.
  • Automation: Patching and backups happening automatically, saving you valuable maintenance time.
  • Intelligent Insights: Gain insight about the performance of your database with built-in intelligence analytics.
  • Versionless: Azure SQL Database is versionless, meaning you are always on the latest version, and never have to worry about upgrading, or downtime. Plus, you're always on the latest and greatest, with our latest stable features being released to the cloud first.
  • Low risk for database applications: By maintaining the database compatibility to the same level as the on-premises database, existing applications are protected from functional and performance changes that can have detrimental effects. An application only needs to be fully re-certified when it needs to use features that are gated by a newer database compatibility setting. For more information, see Compatibility Certification.

Considerations

  • Limited migration options: You can only migrate a single database at a time, rather than an entire instance.
  • Feature limitation: Although the most commonly used Azure SQL Database features are available, the feature set for a single database is not as complete as for Azure SQL Managed Instance, or SQL Server.
  • Transact-SQL differences: There are some Transact-SQL (T-SQL) differences between a single database and an on-premises SQL Server.
  • Size limitations: A single database has a maximum database size of 100 TB, compared to a 524 PB size for SQL Server.
  • Maintenance time: There is no guarantee for the exact maintenance time, though it's nearly transparent.

Resources

Azure SQL Database overview
Choosing an Azure SQL option
SQL Database feature comparison
Migrate SQL Server to a single database
Broader migration process
Single database T-SQL differences
vCore and DTU resource limits
Intelligent Insights

Tools:

SQL Managed Instance

If you'd like to take advantage of offloading maintenance and cost, but find the feature set of an Azure SQL Database single database too limiting, you can move to SQL Managed Instance. A managed instance closely resembles an on-premises SQL Server, without having to worry about such things as hardware failure, or patching. Managed Instance is a collection of system and user databases with a shared set of resources that is lift-and-shift ready, and can be used for most migrations to the cloud. This option is best for new applications or existing on-premises applications that want to use the latest stable SQL Server Database Engine features and that are migrated to the cloud with minimal changes.

Benefits

  • Cost: You can save costs by offloading software and hardware maintenance.
  • Lift and shift: You can lift and shift your entire SQL Server on-premises instance to a managed instance, including all databases with minimal to no database change.
  • Features: The feature set of a managed instance closely matches that of an on-premises instance of SQL Server, such as cross-database queries, transactional replication publishing and distribution, SQL job scheduling, and CLR support.
  • Scalability: All databases within a managed instance share resources, and it is possible to scale up and down at any time without downtime.
  • Automation: Patching and backups happening automatically, saving you valuable maintenance time.
  • Availability: The cost of the service includes both storage and high availability, with 99.99% availability guaranteed.
  • Intelligent Insights: Gain insight about the performance of your databases with built-in intelligence analytics.
  • Versionless: Azure SQL Database is versionless, meaning you are always on the latest version, and never have to worry about upgrading, or downtime. Plus, you're always on the latest and greatest, with our latest stable features being released to the cloud first.
  • Low risk for database applications: By maintaining the database compatibility to the same level as the on-premises databases, existing database applications are protected from functional and performance changes that can have detrimental effects. An application only needs to be fully re-certified when it needs to use features that are gated by a newer database compatibility setting. For more information, see Compatibility Certification.

Considerations

  • Cost: The managed instance option can be more costly than the single database option.
  • Transact-SQL differences: There are some Transact-SQL (T-SQL) differences between a single database and an on-premises SQL Server.
  • Deployment: Deploying a managed instance can take more time than a single database.
  • Feature limitation: Although a managed instance shares most features with SQL Server, there are still some features that are unsupported.
  • Size limitation: The combined storage size for all databases within a managed instance are limited to 8 TB, as opposed to 524 PB for SQL Server on-premises.
  • Networking: The networking requirements for a managed instance add an extra layer of complexity to your infrastructure, and requires either an Azure ExpressRoute or VPN Gateway.
  • Maintenance time: There is no guarantee for the exact maintenance time, though it's nearly transparent.

Resources

SQL Managed Instance overview
Choosing an Azure SQL option
SQL Database feature comparison
Migrate SQL Server to Azure SQL Managed Instance
Broader migration process

Tools:

Non-SQL options

For certain types of applications, you may also want to consider a non-relational or NoSQL solution, such as Azure Cosmos DB or Azure table storage.

Azure Cosmos DB

Consider Azure Cosmos DB for modern, scalable, mobile, and web applications that use JSON data and require a combination of robust querying and transactional data processing. For more info, see Cosmos DB. For info about importing data, see Import data to Cosmos DB.

Azure Cosmos DB has the following benefits:

  • Your documents are indexed and you can use familiar SQL syntax to query them.
  • The database is schema-free.
  • You can add properties to documents without having to rebuild indexes.
  • You get JSON and JavaScript support right inside the database engine.
  • You get native support for geospatial data and integration with other Azure Services including Azure Search, HDInsight, and Data Factory.
  • You get low latency, high-performance storage with reserved throughput levels.

Azure table storage

Consider Azure table storage to store petabytes of semi-structured data in a cost-effective solution. For more info, see Table Storage.

Azure table storage has the following benefits:

  • You can evolve your apps and your table schema without taking the data offline.
  • You can scale up without sharding your dataset.
  • You get geo-redundant storage that replicates data across multiple regions.

Lifecycle dates

The following table provides an approximation of lifecycle dates for SQL Server products. For greater details and accuracy, see the Microsoft Lifecycle Policy page.

Version Release year Mainstream Support end year Extended Support end year
SQL Server 2019 2019 2025 2030
SQL Server 2017 2017 2022 2027
SQL Server 2016 2016 2021 2026
SQL Server 2014 2014 2019 2024
SQL Server 2012 2012 2017 2022
SQL Server 2008 R2 2010 2012 2019
SQL Server 2008 2008 2012 2019
SQL Server 2005 2006 2011 2016
SQL Server 2000 2000 2005 2013

Important

If any discrepancy exists between this table, and the Microsoft Lifecycle page, then the Microsoft Lifecycle supersedes this table, as this table is meant to be used as an approximate reference.

Next Steps

SQL Server 2019
SQL Server 2005 end of support
SQL Server 2008 end of support
Extended Security Updates (ESU) overview
Free Extended Security Updates (ESUs) for migrating to Azure as-is
SQL Server VM overview
Azure SQL Database overview