SQL 2005 Coming to an end

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Today April 12, SQL Server 2005 end of life becomes official. Microsoft is ending extended support, which means no feature updates. No application fixes. No security patches. Anyone still running SQL Server 2005 will be risking compromised data and broken systems. Either upgrade to a newer version of SQL Server, move to a different platform, or do nothing and face the consequences.

Since SQL Server 2005 was released 10 years ago, much has changed across the information landscape. Data has gotten big — really big — and comes in a wide range of shapes and sizes, much of it unstructured, much of it moving at lightning speeds. Add to this mix the criminal element, with attacks on data becoming more sophisticated and better orchestrated. The features and protections that were appropriate in 2005 can seem like child’s play in the face of such monumental changes.

The databases themselves be at risk, but so, too, will every application relying on those databases, with performance, reliability, compliance and SQL Server security on the frontlines. Organizations still relying on SQL Server 2005, even with extended support in place, are already under threat from a community of hackers and cybercriminals who have spent 10 years poking holes into the system. Once those systems no longer receive security patches, every application and service that touches them is susceptible to data theft and corruption.

Not surprisingly, the answer to the dilemma of SQL Server 2005 end of life is to move everyone to upgrade SQL Server 2014 (or SQL Server 2016, whenever that’s released). The Microsoft guard has issued a call to arms, touting the benefits in both performance and security when migrating to the newer systems. You can also choose a hybrid approach, splitting operations between on-premises systems and a cloud environment.

Although migrating from one Microsoft product to another may be your easiest strategy, this may be a good time consider alternatives to move away from the in house platform altogether. There are many more services out there than SQL Database — certainly enough to warrant a thorough comparison. Or what about moving to an open source product such as MySQL? It might even be time to consider a different model altogether, at least for some of your data, away from the relational approach to systems such as NoSQL or Hadoop clusters.

In some cases, you might be able to continue with SQL Server 2005 beyond the April deadline. If you’re running your systems in a secure environment, supporting only in-house operations on servers safely ensconced behind firewalls, you could probably limp along for a while. But this, likely, will be a temporary move at best.

SQL Server 2005 has had a good 10-year run, but that run is ending today. Organizations still operating the system will be up against their fair share of challenges, but they might also find this to be a time of opportunity — as long as they don’t wait too long to make their decisions.

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