Microsoft wants more people to move their database workloads to Azure. They are constantly adding new features, capabilities, even tools to help people move databases to some part of Azure. It’s working well, as the latest quarterly report shows tremendous growth in Azure revenue. We don’t know precisely how SQL Server or Azure SQL databases impact this, but I certainly see more and more customers moving relational workloads to the cloud. Some to Azure, some to other providers.
In an effort to entice people, Microsoft has a promotion that they were running in March, which was asking SQL Server 2012 customers to move to Azure and save with free extended security updates. They reiterated the promotion on July 12, when SQL Server 2012 went out of support. They calculate savings and promote benefits, which might be tangible and desirable to some of you. After all, not having a supported platform isn’t an option for some people.
I don’t know how I feel about this. While we recently had a security update for SQL Server 2012, I know that it’s an older platform and at this point, it’s 10 years past RTM. It is probably time to upgrade to a newer version, which should be 2019 if you can’t wait and SQL Server 2022 if you can wait until the end of the year. I can’t imagine that your workload from 2012 won’t run on 2019, but it’s possible there are some issues.
I’ve run older versions of SQL Server that weren’t supported and often didn’t worry. I knew what worked and what didn’t, and after a few years, it was unlikely that anything in the product would break. However, that was in an environment that was not regulated or certified, which wasn’t always the case. I have worked in places where we would upgrade whenever we got to the end of mainstream support as we weren’t interested in paying for extended support.
I also think that while SQL Server is very mature, and it’s possible that you don’t need new features, you do want a platform that is secure. That means you do want support and fast action if an exploit becomes published. There is also the case that we often want developers working on modern platforms, both because they can take advantage of better language constructs, but also because this helps retention. Try hiring for an all SQL Server 2012 environment v a SQL Server 2019 one. You might find people, but a lot of the talented ones would prefer to work on a modern platform, not a decade old one.
If you are running SQL Server 2012 (or 2008x) and considering the cloud, check out the promotion. It might help you make a decision on whether to upgrade locally or move to Azure.