Should I update SQL Server 2012?

s_sykes
s_sykes used Ask the Experts™
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Is it worth upgrading from SQL Server 2012 sp4 to a newer version of SQL Server?  I have a fairly simple application that uses SQL server and Coldfusion.  I'm in the process of setting up a new server to update the OS to Windows Server 2016.  I would like to keep using SQL Server 2012, though I know it is 8 years old.  

SQL 2012 standard does everything that I need it to do at this point, though I loathe the idea of having to upgrade it in a few years.  Also, is there any way to upgrade the license or are you starting from scratch cost wise?

Thanks!
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Scott SilvaNetwork Administrator

Commented:
It is up to you... You still have a few years of support left, but it might be prudent to do some research to see how "upgradeable" your code is. Maybe verify if any thing like stored procedures and such are OK going forward as sooner or later you will have to upgrade, especially if you have any compliance regulations or cyber insurance that demands apps be current and supported...
s_sykesIT Director

Author

Commented:
It's pretty basic.  SQL queries and and a few SSIS packages to get data in and out.
Scott PletcherSenior DBA
Most Valuable Expert 2018
Top Expert 2014

Commented:
If you don't have a large volume of data that is causing issues, I would stay with what you have.

One of the big advantages of SQL 2016+ is that Standard Edition has data compression available.  If you have a lot of data, that can give you a big boost in performance.
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s_sykesIT Director

Author

Commented:
My db is about 1.5 GB, so no, not very big.
Senior DBA
Most Valuable Expert 2018
Top Expert 2014
Commented:
Yeah, then I see no reason to upgrade.
s_sykesIT Director

Author

Commented:
Sorry to ask a separate question, but would you trust SQL Server on Azure?
David ToddSenior Database Administrator

Commented:
Hi,

This depends on what support you may need from Microsoft - SQL 2012 SP4 came off mainstream support two years ago. That means you cant even pay MS to consider your case if the wheels come off. For instance, if something happens and you need a crash dump analysed, pretty much the only ones who can do that for you are MS.

Now, after consideration, you tell me that you've got that covered, and in that case you'll do an 'emergency upgrade' from a known good backup, that is recent enough so missing data can be recovered, then that's okay.

But if, after considering that scenario, the likelihood the business (or business unit) will end up closed with the loss of jobs, then I suggest that it may pay to upgrade, just to stay on a version that has mainstream support.

Now after you upgrade, it may be prudent to investigate what the support agreement with MS costs, and what it provides, so you have cover during the extended support years. As I understand it, the support agreement with MS must be entered into while your sql instance is eligible for mainstream support.

Having said that, surely a 1.5GB database is not that critical, or the risk is so minor that the cost to control and mitigate the risk is out of proportion.

But I do have to plain disagree with Scott P on this one - the age of your SQL, the perceived absence of software assurance or support agreement with MS, recommends an upgrade is the default starting point. There may not be any features of much use though. On that point I agree with Scott.

FWIW, When trying to start a SQL 2016 instance after another vendor performed routine Windows patching, something (that we have yet to fully identify exactly what and how) caused this SQL to crash after 10mins uptime. Next quarterly patching, and it would crash after about 30 seconds with no dump outputs. So you'll have to excuse me if I'm a little paranoid on this point, as I'm paid to be.

Regards
  David
Top Expert 2016

Commented:
If you are running SP4 Extended Support ends 7/12/2022. With such a small database have you considered SQL express? Or have you tried it and found that it is too limited for your needs?
Scott PletcherSenior DBA
Most Valuable Expert 2018
Top Expert 2014

Commented:
If they somehow did experience a SQL crash that severe -- I'm guessing they haven't, since I haven't seen one in 20 years -- they could upgrade to SQL 2016 at that point.  I suspect you'll pretty much be starting from scratch on licensing either way.
David ToddSenior Database Administrator

Commented:
Hi Scott,

It depends on the relative value of this instance to the rest of the company vs the licencing and time an upgrade would entail.

And I note too how resilient old systems appear to be. But I have seen a SQL 2016 system taken down by a rouge client app from another vendor as outlined above. Funnily enough, the first time around, once SQL was up and stable for a few days, the rouge system was restarted and didn't take SQL down. And just checking the rouge system is connected again and perfectly fine.

Kind regards
  David
Scott PletcherSenior DBA
Most Valuable Expert 2018
Top Expert 2014

Commented:
I get what you're saying.

But presumably one would have the server ghosted or the equivalent.  Restoring a ghost for such a small server shouldn't be a big deal.

Licensing is relatively costly, esp. for small apps/shops.  Yes, it's nice to be able to say, "be current on everything", but sometimes that's just not practical.
s_sykesIT Director

Author

Commented:
Thanks everyone.  I have used SQL express for other applications, but since I use SSIS to move data in and out of this SQL server, I assume that I have to stick with the Standard edition.
Scott PletcherSenior DBA
Most Valuable Expert 2018
Top Expert 2014

Commented:
I think MS now allows Express to be used for commercial purposes [but, note, I am NOT an authority on licensing, verify before using], if you can live with the other restrictions it has (no job agent, etc.).

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