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What Does Support Look Like?

By Steve Jones,

Microsoft support Lifecycle Recently I wrote about the adoption of SQL Server and how it be changing with the quick release cycle. More and more environments will not be able to keep up with the pace of change in SQL Server, and might not want to for many of their instances. The business case for constant upgrades becomes harder and harder to make as SQL Server matures.

My prediction is that most DBAs will need to support more versions of SQL Server in the future. Instead of supporting 2 versions of SQL Server, as many people do now (a "current" version and as you move your instances to the "new" version), I think most companies will end up having 3 or 4 versions of SQL Server living at the same time.

While there are lots of SQL Server 2000 instances out there that run fine, that version is already out of mainstream support and so I think we'll see more and more companies moving to 2005, 2008, or SQL 11 at some point in the next 3-5 years and SQL Server 2000 will die out, just as SQL Server 7 and 6.5 have done over the last 9 years.

What does this mean for support? The Microsoft support lifecycle says that each product will get 5 years of mainstream support, or 2 years after the next version is released, whichever is longer. So by my calculations, our support lifecycle should look like this:

SS9 SS10 SS11 SS12 SS13 SS14
11/1/2005 RTM
8/1/2008 RTM
11/1/2010 EOS
2/1/2011 RTM
8/1/2013 EOS RTM
2/1/2016 EOS RTM
8/1/2018 EOS RTM

In the table above I have RTM as the release date, the build version instead of the product name, EOS as the end of mainstream support, and I've assumed a 30 month development cycle for each version of SQL Server. If SQL Server were to release every 24 months, things get more crowded.

So in 2011, which isn't far away, I could easily see many companies with a 2005 (v9) / 2008 (v10) mixed environment, with some old 2000 servers hanging on that are trying to get migrated to a new version and potentially the desire to adopt v11 for specific instances to take advantage of new features.

As I mentioned in the other editorial, this is a double edged sword. On one hand we will need to learn about new features constantly, but we should have ample opportunity to use those skills for a long time. I'm just glad Microsoft will give us at least 5 years of support for all versions.

At least for now.

Steve Jones

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