So, what does this mean? Well, according to Microsoft's Fixed Lifecycle Policy, this means:
- Non-security updates will no longer be available.
- Security updates will only be available through the Extended Security Update (ESU) Program.
The ESU is intended as a last resort for customers, and it includes critical security updates for up to 3 years once the product reaches the end of its life.
However, there might be a Get Out of Jail Free card available. Previously, SQL Server 2008/R2 customers were allowed to move their 'as is' workloads to Azure Virtual Machines (IaaS) - enabling free access to Extended Security Updates. The hope is that SQL Server 2012/R2 customers will be provided the same option.
As you plan for your next steps with regards to these databases, you essentially have three options:
- Upgrade to a supported version
- The possibility of migrating these databases to Azure Virtual Machines (to be confirmed)
- Purchase Extended Security Updates through a volume licensing agreement
As we experienced with ESU updates via volume licence agreement for SQL server 2008/R2, this option is limited to only those that have an existing Enterprise agreement and active Software Assurance on those licences. This eliminates any organisation with less than 50 SQL cores/5 SQL server editions (the minimum requirement for a Microsoft Server & Cloud enrolment), or those that do not have a standard Enterprise enrolment. This will result in only option 1 or 2 being available to a large proportion of organisations.
Whilst option 2 is certainly a path to consider, more so if Microsoft offer ESU for Azure VMS running SQL 2012, we still see a large number of our clients with demands for remaining on-premise.
If you are leaning towards the first option, I would 100% advise a review project as part of this consideration. A review would enable you to:
- Review all candidates for upgrade, consulting with business owners and taking function into consideration before qualifying.
- Amalgamate where possible. SQL Server licensing is based on the instance count and not the number of databases within that instance, so identifying candidates for consolidation prior to upgrade will save money on expensive database licenses.
- Take a minute to think about the future and what licensing needs to be applied by the business as a whole, alongside growth expectations and infrastructure changes planned. Licensing a SQL Clustered Hypervisor environment with SQL Server Enterprise with SA for unlimited virtualisation may be more cost effective than licensing individual VMs with a 4-core minimum requirement in the long run.
We work with a team of experienced SAM consultants to perform and assist on such projects and will be releasing some SQL Server Audit specials to support businesses as they approach this milestone. Don't be afraid to ask for help or validation!