Why you should plan now to upgrade you SQL server

September 16th, 2018 by Stephen Jones Leave a reply »

Developments in software, hardware, and storage technology make the next twelve to eighteen months an ideal time to migrate from a legacy version of SQL Server to a modern version of SQL Server.

Consider that any version of SQL Server prior to SQL Server 2016 is already a legacy version of SQL Server.
- SQL Server 2014 will fall out of mainstream support on July 9, 2019
- (the same date that SQL Server 2008 and SQL Server 2008 R2 will fall out of extended support).
- SQL Server 2012 fell out of mainstream support on July 11, 2017.

Customers on those platforms, should be budgeting for what to do before the support expires.
Many new features were introduced at SQL 2016 and 2017. SQL Server 2017 is a clearly better upgrade choice than SQL Server 2016 right now. (SQL 2014 is best forgotten!)

Options:
Keep using the software and accept that it won’t receive any more security updates. This leaves you unprotected and is not a recommended course of action in the current era of malware, phasing attacks and GDPR compliance. Potentially the most expensive option ..and you will in any case need to upgrade sooner than later.
• Upgrade to newer software versions that are still supported . Update your on-prem SQL Server 2017 and Windows Server 2016 to get the necessary security, innovation, performance and efficiency. Resource intensive and maybe an expensive option.
Pay Microsoft for a custom support contract - If you have Software Assurance or Subscription licenses under an Enterprise Agreement, then get extended security updates for 3 years by paying 75% of the full license fee for SQL Server or Windows Server. Most expensive option.
Migrate your SQL 2008 workloads onto the Azure platform. Pay nothing for 3 years for support –maybe the least risky option • This choice gets you the necessary critical patches and allows you to keep data safe for >3 years. This give you the time and flexibility to prepare for a next move with SQL. Worth considering. Eligible customers can use Azure Hybrid Benefit and take advantage of existing on-premises licenses for Windows Server and SQL Server to save on Azure Virtual Machines (IaaS) or Azure SQL Database Managed Instance (PaaS) charges. Azure SQL Database reserved capacity is also available and enables you to save up to 33 percent when pre-paid SQL database vCores are taken for a one or three-year term.

Moving to the Cloud is a challenging project for many organisations. Consider booking our Cloud Migration workshop half day session to investigate and define a path for moving workloads, including SQL databases, into Azure. The workshop includes:
• Review of Azure Services.
• Identity the infrastructure required to get started.
• Review of existing workloads and migration paths.
• Administration, Maintenance and Controls.
• Security and Privacy.
• Developing a Cloud Adoption Roadmap.
• Planning a proof-of-concept to begin the journey.

SQL Server Developments

The modern versions of SQL Server are SQL Server 2016, SQL Server 2017, and the upcoming release of SQL Server

When the next version of SQL Server is released (perhaps in Q4 this year ) it is likely to have useful new features and enhancements that will make it a superior upgrade choice to SQL Server 2017. Regardless of new features, the next version of SQL Server will be in mainstream support for a longer period than SQL Server 2016 or SQL Server 2017.

Operating System Developments
Microsoft will release Windows Server 2019 sometime later in 2018. There are a number of improvements in Storage Spaces Direct (S2D), including deduplication and compression in ReFS:
- Another improvement is True Two-Node quorum for two-node S2D clusters using a USB thumb drive as a file share in a router.
- Windows Server 2019 S2D will let you have up to 4PB of raw storage capacity per S2D cluster, which is a 4X improvement over Windows Server 2016.
- There is a new PoSH cmdlet called Get-PhysicalDiskIoReport that lets you view much more granular performance information for individual physical disks, that allows you to manually monitor drive latency, and can be used to automatically detect drive latency outliers.
- Windows Server 2019 fully supports existing NV-DIMM persistent memory, along with Intel Optane 3D XPoint memory and storage. There are also improvements in the free Windows Admin Center management utility that is a great dashboard for hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI) deployments.
- VMware vSphere 6.7 supports vSphere Persistent Memory, which will let you take advantage of persistent memory in a VMware virtualized environment.

Hardware Developments
Both Intel and AMD are scheduled to release new generations of server processors during the next three to six months, both of which will work in existing model servers.
The Intel, 14nm Intel Xeon Scalable Processor “Cascade Lake-SP” is rumored to be due in Q4 of 2018. These processors will support “Apache Pass” DIMMs (meaning Intel Optane 3D XPoint persistent memory) and they are socket compatible with current Intel Xeon Scalable Processor “Skylake-SP” processors, which means that they will work in existing server models. More important for many customers is the fact that Cascade Lake-SP will have hardware-level protection for most side-channel attacks (such as Spectre/Meltdown), which will have less performance impact than software-based mitigation techniques. The Cascade Lake-SP processors will be followed by 14nm “Cooper Lake-SP” in 2019, and then 10nm “Ice Lake-SP” server processors in 2020.

Intel’s continued struggles with 10nm manufacturing are definitely going to hurt their competitive position compared to AMD in 2019/2020 so AMD stands to gain significant market share from Intel in the server space during this period.
AMD will have the 2nd generation, 7nm “Zen2” EPYC “Rome” family processors in early-mid 2019. These processors are supposed to be socket compatible with existing server models and have up to 48 cores/ 96 threads per processor. These processors are also rumored to have PCIe 4.0 support, which will give them double the bandwidth per lane compared to PCIe 3.0.

Looking further out, AMD is planning a3rd generation 7nm+ “Zen3” EPYC “Milan” family of processors sometime in 2020.

Storage Developments
Intel released its first 3D XPoint storage product, the 375GB Intel Optane DC P4800X SSD in Q1 2017. These use a PCIe 3.0 x4 link along with the NVMe protocol, and they have roughly 10X lower latency and 5-8X better throughput at low queue depths compared to the fastest PCIe NVMe NAND-based SSDs.
They also have 2-4X better write endurance than enterprise NAND-based SSDs.
These are relatively inexpensive and offer the fastest currently available type of traditional block mode storage. These are transparent to SQL Server and will work in any system that supports PCIe 3.0 x4 slots as HHHL add-in cards or U.2 connected drives.

Expected in the very near future the Intel 3D XPoint-based DIMMs (“Apache Pass”) that use a traditional low-latency DDR4 memory interface and form factor. These DIMMs will be available in 128GB, 256GB, and 512GB capacities, and they will fit in DDR4 memory slots. They will be addressable in a lower performance block mode that uses the entire storage stack, or a much higher performance direct access (DAX) mode that is byte addressable and bypasses the storage stack.

Both Windows 10 and Windows Server 2016 already have DAX support, and SQL Server 2016 SP1 has the persistent log buffer feature that lets you leverage a DAX storage volume that is built on persistent memory to create a small additional 20MB transaction log file that is used to greatly reduce latency writing to the transaction log. It seems probable that the next release of SQL Server will improve this feature.

Windows Server 2019 will have even better support for persistent memory. New two-socket servers with Intel Xeon “Cascade Lake-SP” processors will support up to 6TB of 3D XPoint DIMMs, which can be combined with traditional DDR4 memory in other memory slots.

Advertisement

Comments are closed.