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April 12, 2016, is an important date for organizations still running SQL Server 2005. That’s the day Microsoft extended support ends. And although next year may seem like a long way off, this year is the time to implement a plan to upgrade your aging technology to Microsoft SQL Server 2014. Not convinced an upgrade is the right move? Consider these top 10 reasons that modernizing your 10-year-old database technology is a smart business decision.    

1. Options. Modernizing your data platform is not an all-or-nothing venture. Microsoft offers a unique level of flexibility — you can update your existing servers, run SQL Server 2014 on virtual machines in the cloud, or implement a combination of both. SQL Server 2014 is designed to work the same on-premises or in the cloud, creating consistent hybrid environments. New tools in SQL Server make it even easier to build backup and disaster recovery solutions with Microsoft Azure. These tools also provide an easy on ramp to the cloud for on-premises SQL Server databases, enabling customers to use their existing skills to take advantage of Microsoft’s global datacenters. For more about the pros and cons of different migration options, download Migrating from SQL Server 2005.

2. ROI. You may think the least expensive option is sticking with what you’ve got. Not so. Modernizing your data platform is a wise business investment. According to a July 2014 Microsoft commissioned study from Forrester on the Total Economic Impact of SQL Server, businesses achieved a 9.5-month payback when migrating to SQL Server 2014 and a 113 percent ROI, in part from a 20 percent improvement in IT resource productivity.

3. Performance. SQL Server 2014 has been benchmarked to be 13 times faster than SQL Server 20051 and 5.5 times faster than SQL Server 2008.2 And that’s before the incredible performance gains available with in-memory technology. In-memory OLTP delivers, on average, 10 times faster transaction processing — and in some cases up to 30 times faster. For data warehousing, the new updatable in-memory columnstore can query 100 times faster than legacy solutions. And, SQL Server 2014 is better together with Windows Server 2012 R2, which allows scale up across computing, networking and storage — up to 640 logical processors.

4. High availability. In SQL Server 2014, AlwaysOn availability groups are better than ever with up to 8 readable secondaries and synchronous or asynchronous commit modes. When it comes to high availability, SQL Server 2014 delivers the high 9s you need for your mission-critical applications.

5. Security and compliance. When it comes to data security, there have been significant changes since 2005. SQL Server 2014 was engineered for security from the ground up. Features such as security roles for separation of duties, full-featured auditing and transparent data encryption make it possible for any organization to meet its regulatory compliance standards, such as PCI-DSS for credit card transactions, HIPAA for medical patient privacy, and GLBA for financial institutions. SQL Server has had the least vulnerabilities of any major database the past six years running, as tracked by the National Institute of Standards and Technology.3

6. Productivity. SQL Server 2014 can help every user in your organization make better, faster decisions through its complete BI platform that speeds how they access, analyze and shape both internal and external data. And with insights achieved using familiar tools like Microsoft Excel and leveraging the power of the cloud through Power BI, the learning process is faster and cheaper. The right information at the right time in the hands of the right people can drive increased productivity and better results that spell success for your employees and your business.

7. Customer satisfaction. Today’s customers want to do business with companies that provide a secure, easy and seamless experience. Slow performance, service disruptions or a data breach will quickly send customers to your competition. SQL Server 2014 provides the speed, AlwaysOn availability, and security that drives customer satisfaction. In addition, SQL Server 2014 offers business intelligence tools and enterprise data management software that can provide valuable insights about customer behavior and pain points, allowing you to respond proactively and avoid customer churn and the related costs.

8. Support. None of the great features in Microsoft SQL Server 2014 matter unless you have the support you need in case of issues or failures. Unlike the situation you’ll face next April for applications running on SQL Server 2005, with SQL Server 2014 you’ll receive the mission-critical support you expect for your mission-critical workloads, along with all timely security updates and hotfixes to help your organization meet security and compliance requirements and audits.

9. EoS. That stands for End of Support — for your SQL Server 2005. And that means no more security updates and hotfixes from Microsoft, opening the door to potential business interruptions. Without security updates you may fail to comply with standards and regulations that can seriously hamper your ability to do business. End of support also means higher maintenance costs because your IT team may need to take over managing aging hardware, keeping intrusion detection systems and firewalls up to date, handling network segmentation, and so on.

And last, but definitely not least …

10. Help. Figuring out which technology upgrades are best for your organization can be daunting. But you don’t have to go it alone. Microsoft and its partners are standing by to help. Tapping the expertise of a partner can make the upgrade process more efficient and ensure that nothing gets overlooked, especially since so many applications use SQL Servers. Whether you engage outside help or go it alone, you’ll want to take a look at the Microsoft SQL Server upgrade website. You’ll find insights and practical resources for planning and implementing your upgrade, including a technical upgrade guide, upgrade advisor and database migration wizard. You can even download the trial version of SQL Server 2014 or start a free Microsoft Azure trial to experience Microsoft Azure SQL Database.

To learn more about SQL Server 2005 end of support and have your questions answered, join us for a webinar on October 14, 2015 at 9am PST – SQL Server 2005 Upgrade: The Path to Better Database Performance and Security, hosted by Debbi Lyons, Sr. Product Marketing Manager for SQL Server. Register here.

1  13x gain based on TPC-E benchmark results published for SQL Server 2014 (www.tpc.org/4069), SQL Server 2005 (www.tpc.org/4001) as of Oct. 8, 2014.
2   5.5x gain based on TPC-E benchmark results published for SQL Server 2014 (www.tpc.org/4069), SQL Server 2008 (www.tpc.org/4023) as of Oct. 8, 2014.
3  National Institute of Standards and Technology Comprehensive Vulnerability Database, Jan. 21, 2015.