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Buck Woody

Carpe Datum!

Spit it out already!

You’ve probably seen that commercial where the chewing-gum company van stalks the guy who has been chewing the same piece of gum too long, and they attack him and make him chew another piece.

I feel like that with SQL Server 2000. Almost every shop I go into has at least one primary application running on SQL Server 2000. Now, don’t get me wrong – SQL Server 2000 is a fine piece of software engineering. From over TEN YEARS AGO. In “software time”,  that’s like a thousand years or something.

While it was great for its day, the newer versions are faster, more secure, and more robust. And every time it doesn’t get upgraded, SQL Server is perceived as “not as fast/strong/etc” as other platforms (which are upgraded, of course).

Now, I’m not suggesting that anyone upgrade for upgrade’s sake. We all have work to do, and the last thing we need to do is change out a platform when there’s no need.

But there is a need. SQL Server 2000 isn’t in mainline support any more. That means it can be attacked easier and so on. And it doesn’t scale like the new offerings, nor does it have any of the new features the latest versions have.

“Oh”, you might say, “I don’t use those features anyway.” Well of course you don’t – you can’t if you still have SQL Server 2000! How do you know the ways you could help your organization if you don’t experiment with the new stuff?

But it isn’t the DBA I would chase down and steal gum from. It’s the vendors.

Every time I raise my eyebrows when I hear about the SQL Server 2000 installs, the DBA shrugs and says “The vendor won’t certify SQL Server X, so we have to stay at SQL Server 2000 or 2005.” And I say, that’s just lazy. Unless the vendor codes specifically for deprecated features, a simple test run during their software development should allow them to move forward. I’m not saying that’s an easy task, but certainly they’ve tested their software releases once in the last ten years, no? If not, doesn’t that make you nervous?

Anyhoo, spit out the SQL Server 2000. Or I might have to fire up the company van.

Published Wednesday, January 06, 2010 7:11 AM by BuckWoody

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Adam Machanic said:

Much like my rant on out of office replies, it's easy to agree with this one and unfortunately impossible to change the reality of the situation. I still see SQL Server 7.0 instances on a somewhat regular basis. I do my best not to touch them, but for most companies it's a simple matter of if it ain't broke...

January 6, 2010 10:15 AM
 

take 2 said:

It's the old "is/ought" dichotomy. The app is currently running on SQL 2000 on the back end.  The app ought to be running SQL 2008 on the back end.

Certain types of industries (e.g. Financial) are VERY conservative and change happens s-l-o-w-l-y (if at all).  To make things more difficult, the DBA and DBA teams are (IMO and in the opinion of thought leaders I won't name but who know the game, I assure you...) losing influence within the org and within IT. With other entities inside the biz and within IT making SQL decisions, DBAs are less likely to be able to persuade decision makers and in today's harsh climate the incentives to suggest something that lacks support is not always there. Sticking your neck out with an unemployment rate over 10% isn't something every DBA is willing to do. Most DBAs will make the case for upgrade, but if the initial appeal isn't received - that's pretty much the end of it.

January 6, 2010 10:30 AM
 

Scott Whigham said:

I'm with Adam on this one - I hear from students all the time who are running SQL 2000 and they aren't planning on upgrading because there are no benefits to them. Why spend $5,000 or $250,000 just to run the most/more recent version when you have 5/10/15 500MB databases that aren't growing all that fast? Just because SQL 2000 isn't supported anymore doesn't mean people running it should upgrade IMO. Are there really lots of attackers going after SQL 2000 systems today? I don't know - I suppose it's possible...

Now for those folks still running SQL 7.0 - that's just silly :)

January 6, 2010 10:37 AM
 

Devmentia said:

If it aint broke, don't fix it.

I still see lots of 2000, many SQL7 and even some SQL6.5. It may be that this isn't the best solution and that it isn't supported. Usually though, these databases are used by applications that are also ten years old or more. They are stable, used regularly and any issues have been ironed out.

Aside from the cost of upgrading, why would these users take the risk for little or no benefit?

January 6, 2010 12:11 PM
 

NULLgarity said:

I agree with having to understand the customer perspective of "not broken, don't fix it"

However, no excuse for ISVs not certifying on something more recent than 2000 and something fully supported.  That's not just lazy, that is irresponsibile.

January 6, 2010 1:57 PM
 

Lars said:

A few years ago there was a rather poor taste series of commercials, depicting those not already on Office 2003 as dinosaurs. We are seeing the same arrogant attitude all over again. Yesterday we were called "myopic", today we are "lazy".

SQL Server 2000 does not have all the bells and whistles the later versions do, but it is good enough in many cases. If you take quality seriously, you do not upgrade after "a simple test", you do it in a more professional way, and that takes time. Time means money, money spent with no possible return on the investment.

The fact that 2000 is not supported is not a fact of life like change of seasons. It is a human decision, as such it can be reconsidered. Why does not the vendor do what the customers want, extend the support.

Regarding "laziness" of vendors, what is the point of spending time and money to certify on another version, if it does not up my sales? Why should I care about MS sales, if I do not have incentives to do so?

For many businesses databases are not that important, they should be like wiring, done once for a long time, and requiring no maintenance. It this artificial "need" for upgrades continues, we shall have more incentives to choose other RDBMS.

January 6, 2010 2:05 PM
 

Buck Woody said:

Lars - these are my opinions, not Microsoft's. No dinosaurs here!  

What I'm saying is that a vendor should want the best performance, security and scale for their clients. That not only includes their software, but the back-end they use.

I'm sure you're not lazy. But I think any firm would want to test and release their software on a supported, performant system, whether that's Microsoft, Oracle, or whatever.

As I mentioned in the post, I don't think you should upgrade your offerings just to upgrade. But I'm sure you're not currently developing a product against a non-supported product - that is the part that would be less than optimal for your product. The testing for one version should be the same as for another, and that provides your clients the best experience, which is what you want, I'm sure.

Thanks for reading - and for commenting!

January 6, 2010 4:45 PM
 

Keith Mescha said:

I'm curious of how many people out there are still on Windows 3.1 that are replying to this post? Just seems like the common feedback is to not upgrade if it ain't broke. Was Windows 3.1 broke? Maybe, but my opinion is that you need to continue to improve not just stay the same.

January 6, 2010 4:52 PM
 

AaronBertrand said:

Keith, a Windows upgrade is < $100, and most in the workplace do that because their company does not want to support Win 3.1, probably requires apps (like timesheet apps, source control etc) that don't run there, etc.  Windows is the operating system you use all day every day and has different requirements (both real and perceived) than a server sitting in a corner servicing an application.  If the application has not advanced and is working perfectly, then what are you improving, and at what cost?  The 7.0 or 2000 SQL Server in the corner is on some crappy old hardware that probably wouldn't even run the setup for 2008 because it doesn't have enough RAM, can't support .NET framework, etc.  So in addition to upgrading licenses (at a cost of potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars), you will probably have to upgrade hardware as well.  So that your app can continue working the way it has been chugging along all this time?  I'd love to see you pleading your "keep up with the Joneses" case with a hard-nosed small business owner that doesn't have an endless closet full of money to throw at non-problems.

January 6, 2010 5:07 PM
 

AaronBertrand said:

Of course I am speaking from a perspective of a home-grown app used as part of the business, not an app I am buying, subscribing to updates / SA for, or selling to customers using SQL Server.

January 6, 2010 5:14 PM
 

Keith Mescha said:

I see the point about money, etc. I just feel like it's so easy to use an excuse vs looking for other options to solve the problem. I've seen it a dozen times, been told it can't be done. All I'm saying is make an effort, test it out, look for other options.Either start planning and budgeting now or you will be doing it at the worst time when you have less money and no choice but to do it or fold.

There are 2 sides to every coin I suppose.

January 6, 2010 5:53 PM
 

WIDBA said:

I don't think upgrading for upgrades sake makes much sense.

I still support both, more 2000 than 2008, but my company continues to add/enhance applications and 2008 does offer some very beneficial features, especially in auditing, security and the DMVs.  The systems that have the least to gain will take years to migrate because there is no real reason to.  Likely hardware getting aged out would be the decision maker for some.  By then we can just stuff it in the "cloud" :)

January 7, 2010 11:08 AM
 

Lars said:

Buck,

I appreciate you publishing critical comments.

We all have priorities. For example, SQL Server still does not fully support analytical functions. There is no doubt they would be very useful, yet probably some other, more important for you tasks get done first.

Other vendors have priorities too. For instance, for obvious reasons Linux is a very big thing right now. So right now I am getting more bang for my buck if I concentrate my efforts on that platform. This is why less important things do not get done fast.

Apparently the section of the market which I am exposed to is rather indifferent to SQL 2008 right now, so for now supporting 2005 is good enough.

Although it is very human to blame the messenger, what is the point. Dan Jones may think it is "myopic" to not embrace the latest developments in the technology, but it does not look like the trends and forces of the market agree with him. If enough of the customers wanted the new platform, there would be a rush to satisfy them. Right now this is not the case. The vendors' behavior reflects the reality. Blaming the mirror for the reflection you see in it is not extremely professional if the reflection is accurate.

Thanks.

January 7, 2010 5:23 PM
 

Buck Woody said:

Lars - agreed. If your customer base is elsewhere, I certainly agree that's the best place to put your time.

Thanks again for reading, and responding!

January 7, 2010 6:09 PM

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