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It’s the End of the Road for SQL 2008/R2, Windows 2008/R2 and Windows 7

April 22, 2019 – The last flickering days of support for these products is upon us. We have been communicating to our customer base to be prepared to migrate or decommission these dated servers and OSs but there is still a huge install base. One of the biggest issues is the lack of security updates moving forward. With General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) now in full effect, it is mandatory that your applications and operating systems are current on patching and security updates to ensure the least amount of surface area is available to exploits and vulnerabilities.  An unsupported product immediately becomes exponentially susceptible to being compromised. When is it imperative for you to address this? The first end of support date comes on July 9, 2019 for SQL. So what should you do?

For SQL, you have a few options:

1. Upgrade your server – this may entail new hardware unless virtualized

2. Migrate to Azure SQL Database – free migration service

3. Migrate to Azure SQL VMs – free migration service

Of the three, the easiest to perform are options 2 and 3. While you will want one of our experts to assist you during the process, the actual migration of data is a free service within the Azure platform. Secondly, once you are on the Azure platform you will never have to worry about upgrading again if you go with option 2. Microsoft maintains the platform on the most recent release of SQL.  As for option 3, if your applications can only use SQL 2008/R2 until you have them recertified on a new version, you can rehost your instance of SQL 2008/R2 into Azure Virtual Machines and receive three years of extended security updates at no additional charge.

Support for Windows 2008/R2 Server ends January 14, 2020. This will require a fairly simple upgrade for the most part to Windows Server 2016/2019, unless you have an application that is certified under the 2008/R2 platform. That would be a prime candidate to move to an Azure VM. Similar to SQL on VM, once you rehome your dated Windows Server to the Azure VM platform, you get another three years of extended security support at no charge. This will give you more than enough time to validate your application to be able to run under a newer Server OS.

Lastly, on January 14, 2020, support ends for Windows 7 as well. This can be a bit trickier. Many people didn’t adopt Windows 10 because they had such a high investment in legacy applications that could not run under the Windows 10 platform or realized that it was going to be a massive undertaking to get users educated with the new operating environment. 

In any event, the options previously were limited and expensive using VDI as a potential workaround—that is, until recently when Microsoft unveiled a new Azure service called Windows Virtual Desktop. WVD is Desktop-as-a-Service for Windows 10 and Windows 7 VDI sessions. If you have these legacy applications that only run on Windows 7, you can upload your image to WVD and receive Windows 7 Extended Security Updates until January 2023. This gives your company the ability to upgrade all of your Windows systems to Windows 10 and then provide your users access to a WVD session that has access to all of their apps. All desktops can be accessed either via a simple browser session or an RDP client. This not only provides you a Window to bring your infrastructure up-to-date but it also gives you the security necessary to be compliant with all of the major regulatory compliances.

We are deeply experienced at Groupware in providing our customers with sensible and well-thought solutions that meet their requirements and needs, yet takes into account technical limitations and how to implement workarounds that are cost effective. Contact us if your organization needs to upgrade SQL or Windows as the end of support dates will be upon you before you know it.

Chris Zwergel is Practice Manager for Applications at Groupware Technology.