SQL Server 2005/2008 Servicing Plans

Microsoft Group Program Manager Matthias Berndt has a post up on the Microsoft SQL Server Release Services blog (which is a good blog to subscribe to in your favorite RSS reader) regarding Microsoft’s plans for releasing both SQL Server 2005 SP4 and SQL Server 2008 SP2 during CY2010.

SQL Server 2008 SP2 is due to be released in Q3 2010, while SQL Server 2005 SP4 is due to be released in Q4 2010. Matthias reminds us that SQL Server 2005 goes into extended support on April 13, 2011, so SP4 should be the last Service Pack for SQL Server 2005.

Perhaps this news will reassure people who were concerned that Microsoft was purposely not going to release any more service packs for SQL Server 2005 or SQL Server 2008 in order to “force” people to move to SQL Server 2008 R2. I never believed that Microsoft had any intention of doing that. Personally, I like to stay as current as possible on both operating systems and SQL Server versions for my database servers. Not just because the newer versions are “cool” or “bright and shiny”, but because each new version of the operating system and of SQL Server have tangible improvements and new features that provide real benefits to me and my employer.

Windows Server 2008 handles memory management much better than Windows Server 2003 or 2003 R2. It also has significant improvements to its networking stack (which make file copies and network backups faster). Windows Server 2008 R2 has important improvements to its scheduler (which allow support for more than 64 logical processors and also benefit smaller machines). SQL Server 2008 has major new features such as data compression, native backup compression, resource governor, and integrated full text search compared to SQL Server 2005. SQL Server 2008 R2 has fewer Engine improvements, but lots of BI related improvements.

If you have a scenario where you are still running older versions of SQL Server on older versions of the operating system, on old, possibly out of warranty server hardware, I would be planning and working on making the case for doing lots of upgrade and consolidation work during the rest of 2010. Current database server hardware is amazingly better than hardware from 3-4 years ago. You can get a 2U, two socket, quad-core Xeon 5500 series machine with 72GB of RAM for about $7-8K. A machine like this has the horsepower to replace multiple older servers, with big savings in both maintenance costs and energy usage (which is a big deal in many data centers).

I am currently running SQL Server 2008 SP1 CU6 on top of Windows Server 2008 R2 for all of my production database servers. Quite soon after SQL Server 2008 R2 is released in May 2010, I plan on using database mirroring to upgrade all of them to SQL Server 2008 R2 with a couple of sub-minute outages.

What do you think?  I would love to hear people’s plans and problems regarding this subject.

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