Top 4 Things to Consider When Upgrading SQL Server

Top 4 Things to Consider When Upgrading
SQL Server

It might seem a little crazy to upgrade Microsoft SQL Server every two years unless there is a must-have feature in the newest version that you need. After all, having a healthy level of caution when it comes to updating database servers is usually wise. Here’s why you should consider these four things before you upgrade your SQL Server.

1. Which version of SQL Server will best meet my needs?

Will you upgrade to the latest version of SQL Server? Maybe the latest version came out three days ago. In this case, you may not want to upgrade to it just because it’s so new. Maybe you’re risking your environment using something not fully vetted in the wild.

Most often, though, you will want to go to the latest version of SQL Server, as installing an older version of SQL Server usually means having to upgrade again sooner in the future.

2. Should I use Standard or Enterprise Edition?

There is a drastic cost difference between Standard and Enterprise Edition. If you’re currently using Enterprise Edition, you may want to stay with it, but you may want to do some analysis to see if you are taking advantage of any Enterprise-level features in the version of SQL you will be using.

The Standard version has new features previously only found in the Enterprise Edition. If you’re not using enterprise-level features and you’re not planning on using them from day one in the new environment, you should consider Standard Edition. If you need enterprise-level features in the future, upgrading to Enterprise Edition later is easy. It’s as simple as putting in a different key when you want to upgrade, and it takes about two minutes. Should you want to downgrade from Enterprise to Standard later, it is not simple or easy to do.

3. Should I do an in-place or side-by-side upgrade?

In-place upgrades are much quicker and easier to complete but come with many risks. You limit the ability to test running in this newer version of SQL Server. What happens if something goes wrong? How can you roll back? Will you need to upgrade your OS to support the version of SQL you are upgrading? Doing an in-place upgrade likely means running on old hardware, which might not be ideal.

Side-by-side upgrades require two separate servers, which means double the hardware and disk until the upgrade is complete. However, side-by-side upgrades allow you to bring copies of your data over beforehand for testing purposes. How do you put together a testing plan that maximizes your chances of success in go-live? How do you best simulate production load to ensure the new instance can handle it? When it is time for the cutover to your new server, how will you handle repointing all your connections to the new instance? How will you efficiently get the production data to the new environment with minimal downtime? These are all things to consider when performing a side-by-side upgrade.

4. Should I migrate my data to the cloud?

Does it seem like a lot of vendors are talking about the cloud? When considering migrating to the cloud, you will want to closely examine the database’s size and your workloads (compute). For example, migrating a multi-terabyte database to the cloud can be very costly compared to running it on an on-premise virtual machine.

It’s a good idea to try a cloud TCO calculator, so you understand the potential cost before migrating to the cloud.

You need to understand your roadmap for the rest of your environment. What are you planning on putting in the cloud at some point? In some cases, whether it’s a public cloud or private cloud.

If you are going to the cloud, you need to understand how best to prepare yourself for that move (i.e., network, application, database, compute, etc.). If you are going to be doing things like archiving to pack the size of the database or doing a lot of performance work, you want to do that before you migrate to the cloud.

Every environment is different

Where do you start? Where do you finish? Every environment is different and takes its own unique set of requirements when you are doing the upgrade. Reaching out to a trusted partner like MiCORE can highlight success.

About MiCORE Solutions

MiCORE provides its clients with the assurance their critical database systems are fully covered, and they can focus on their business. As a specialized database managed services and consulting organization, MiCORE works with many different companies across various industries. The vast experience we have gained working on a multitude of client engagements allows us to quickly engage with our clients and provide best practices to maximize database performance and stability.

MiCORE provides database support services for Oracle, Microsoft SQL Server, major open source databases (MySQL, PostgresSQL, MariaDB), and AWS databases. MiCORE provides database cloud architecture, migration, and management across AWS, Azure, and Oracle Cloud.

We can augment or provide full-time database support services across all your key platforms.

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