Microsoft SQL Server is a state-of-the-art database management system. If you ask my personal opinion, then I think it's the best DBMS out there, with so many features and capabilities. It won lots of prizes and benchmarks, and it has the best price-performance ratio in the market (my honest opinion).
If you are already using SQL Server, then you are lucky. You have a powerful tool under your hands. Make sure that you take advantage of all the great features that it has to offer, and maximize your return on investment (ROI). If you are not already using SQL Server, then maybe you should consider migrating your data to SQL Server.
But I'm not here to talk about database migration. That's a topic for a whole different article. This article is about SQL Server upgrade. Before I continue, let me stress that this article is about the on-prem SQL Server product. I will not cover here the PaaS products, such as Azure SQL Database and Azure SQL Managed Instance. These are wonderful cloud database services, and in many cases they are excellent options for modernization, but they are not the subject of this article.
There are many shops where moving the data to the cloud is not an option, whether it's due to regulations, cost analysis, or something else. If you are one of those shops, and you are currently using an old version of SQL Server, then this article is for you.
As of today, the latest version of SQL Server is 2019. Microsoft has already announced SQL Server 2022, but currently it is still in private preview, so I will ignore this version at this point. If you are already using SQL Server 2019, that's great. I still recommend that you read to the end of this article, because you might learn some tips about maximizing your investment. If you are using an older version of SQL Server, then read on...
So you are using SQL Server and it works. Why bother? Why should you add another headache to your already packed schedule of endless projects and tasks?
Well, I promised five reasons, so here they are:
1. Security - Protect Your Data
Microsoft provides 5 years of mainstream support, and after that, additional 5 years of extended support, for each released version of SQL Server. In the first 5 years, Microsoft provides functional, performance, scalability, and security updates on a regular basis. This means you get constant updates, bug fixes, and new functionality, and the product that you purchased will get better all the time. Well, not all the time, only until 5 years after the initial release.
During the extended support period Microsoft continues to support the product, but provides only security updates. No more bug fixes, new functionality, improved performance, etc. But if a security breach is identified, which might allows attackers to penetrate your database, then Microsoft will provide a security patch ASAP, so that you can close the hole and protect your data. This is very important.
But after 10 years, when even extended support is ended, you're on your own. Microsoft will not support that product anymore, and will not even provide security patches. This means that if a security breach is identified, then your database is exposed, and there is nothing you can do about it, as long as you continue to use the same SQL Server version. With the increased volume of security attacks on one hand, and the increase value of your data, on the other hand, this is a risk you simply can't afford to take.
Sometimes, it's not even a question whether you can afford the risk or not. You might be under some regulation that forces you to use a supported version. In order to be compliant, you have to upgrade to a supported version. You simply don't have a choice.