Guest post by: Jessica Looke, Product Marketing Manager, NTT Communications

Last year, Microsoft announced that it would stop support for SQL Server 2008/2008 R2 in July 2019 and Windows Server 2008/2008 R2 in January 2020, indicating an end to regular security updates. This means that no new features or fixes will be released, but Microsoft have indicated that it will continue to support customers through an extended support agreement. Businesses intending to leave applications unsupported and therefore not updated on these servers leave themselves open to any number of cyber-attacks and viruses. Instead, with an enthusiastic nod towards its front-runner position as the fastest growing cloud platform, the company has been encouraging users to migrate their Windows and SQL 2008 servers over to the Azure cloud.

The update means that companies will be empowered to realise the benefits of Azure through business agility, improved cost savings through infrastructure optimization, (it suggests companies can save up to 80% of costs when moving more than 100 x 2008 servers to the cloud) and a strong emphasis on security and meeting compliance requirements.

This end of support announcement should give a much needed push to enterprises thinking about transforming their IT estate with the cloud. However, it can be hard to upgrade everything before the end of support timeline. To address this timing issue, Microsoft is providing extended security updates as standard in Azure for 2008 and 2008 R2 versions of SQL Server and Windows Server to help secure workloads for three more years after the end of support deadline.

To prepare for the journey to Azure and create a future-proofed cloud foundation that a business requires for modernizing applications and environments, consider working with a service provider that will invest in assessing the readiness of your business to make this move. This initial assessment should include the identification of applications and server roles and each workload should be evaluated to help you to identify which apps would benefit or are appropriate to move to the cloud.

Like any big decision, rushing into a cloud migration unprepared and uninformed can end in over-provisioned, expensive loads and at worst, messy environments resulting in performance or operational problems. To make sure you reach Microsoft’s July 2019 and January 2020 deadline with a fully optimized infrastructure for Windows, choose a dedicated managed services provider to help you create a robust foundation which will be your springboard to cost savings, innovation and overall cloud success.

An experienced managed service provider will help plan and execute your Windows and SQL 2008 migrations to Azure with no application code changes. After the initial migration, the MSP will ensure your environment is kept available, optimized and secure 24x7. Post migration support should include upgrading to newer versions such as SQL Server 2017 or Windows Server 2016 and utilizing the rich set of platform and data services available in the Azure cloud.