Windows Server and SQL Server 2008 reach the end of their support lifecycles on 14th January 2020 and 9th July 2019 respectively. What should your organisation do next to ensure that you maintain security and compliance?

Windows Server and SQL Server 2008, the reliable workhorse technologies from Microsoft that continue to host many thousands of applications and databases throughout the world, are finally reaching the end of their support lifecycles. SQL Server 2008 will no longer be supported by Microsoft from 9th July 2019, and Windows Server 2008 will no longer be supported from 14th January 2020, which means that Microsoft will cease to provide technical support or issue security updates. This may lead to security and compliance issues, potentially putting your organisation at risk.

If your organisation has been happily using Windows Server and SQL Server 2008 for some time now, it may be tempting to retain them and maintain stability and consistently of service. However, at Six Degrees we believe that there are a number of risks to retaining Windows Server and SQL Server 2008, and some compelling benefits of upgrading.

Risks of Retaining Windows Server and SQL Server 2008

The risks that you will be subjecting your business to should you retain Windows Server and SQL Server 2008 can be broadly separated into three areas:

  • Security Risk. Once they have gone end of life, Microsoft will no longer issue security updates for Windows Server or SQL Server 2008. These updates are an essential element of maintaining secure systems. Once support ends cybercriminals will target any flaws in your Windows Server or SQL Server 2008 servers, and Microsoft will not be issuing updates to protect you.
  • Compatibility and Compliance Risk. Most hardware and software vendors follow Microsoft’s product lifecycles relatively closely, as they understand that the majority of people will be using Microsoft systems to access their services. Once support for Windows Server and SQL Server 2008 ends new products will likely stop supporting the platforms, and support for legacy products that are compatible will reduce. There may also be compliance issues associated with continuing to use Windows Server and SQL Server 2008 after they have gone end of life, although these are not yet known at this time.
  • Support Risk. Microsoft will cease support for Windows Server and SQL Server 2008 once they have gone end of life. This means that your outsourced IT provider, or your internal IT support function, will no longer be able to escalate incidents to Microsoft, no matter how critical. Underpinning vendor support is important for critical systems, and losing this support will introduce significant risk to your systems’ continued uptime and security.

Options Available to Your Organisation

At Six Degrees, we believe there are four options available to organisations with Windows Server and SQL Server 2008 instances in their environments. Microsoft recommends upgrading to the latest versions of Windows Server and SQL Server in order to achieve better performance, efficiency and new feature sets. And you may want to consider transitioning your Windows Server and SQL Server instances across to the latest cloud computing platforms as part of your wider digital transformation program.

Whatever option you choose, you should start planning now: 9th July 2019 and 14th January 2020 will come and go sooner than you think…

Option One: Do Nothing

Your organisation can choose to do nothing: to let support for Windows Server and SQL Server 2008 run out and accept the risks of potential downtime and data breach. This may seem like the most cost effective option, but if and when something goes wrong the resultant costs – let alone the potential operational and reputational damage – can be significant.

Option Two: Purchase Extended Security Updates

For organisations that are unable to upgrade before 9th July 2019 or 14th January 2020, Microsoft are offering Extended Security Updates for three years. This will give you access to support and security updates that will minimise risk to your organisation, but at a cost: the extended three year Extended Security Updates option is prohibitively expensive when compared to upgrade offerings.

Option Three: Upgrade to the Latest Windows Server and SQL Server

Upgrading to the latest version of Windows Server and SQL Server will mean that your organisation benefits not just from regular security updates, but also the most recent performance and innovation features. SQL Server 2017 is the new standard for performance and efficiency, and includes built-in security features to help you harden your platform. If you are thinking about upgrading, you should consider moving to Azure SQL Database rather than carrying out an on-premise upgrade. Meanwhile, Windows Server 2019 is the operating system that bridges on-premises environments with Azure, adding additional layers of security while helping you modernise your applications and infrastructure.

Option Four: Migrate to Azure

The final option is to migrate your Windows Server and SQL Server 2008 instances across to Microsoft Azure. Azure has extensive built-in security, along with more than 70 compliance certifications. Re-hosting workloads in Azure can form part of a wider transition to modern Platform as a Service (PaaS) offerings that reduce management overheads and increase return on investment. And what’s more, Microsoft is offering three years of Extended Security Updates at no additional charge if you re-host your workloads in Azure.

Windows Server and SQL Server 2008 – It’s Decision Time

If you run Windows Server and SQL Server 2008 instances in your environment, it’s decision time. Whether you choose to accept the risks and do nothing, or take a progressive approach and migrate to Microsoft Azure and begin – or continue – your digital transformation journey, Six Degrees can support you every step of the way.

If you’re wondering what’s next for your Windows Server and SQL Server 2008 instances, get in touch with us. Our experts will give you the guidance and support you need.