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I need your advice.

Our company is about to cancel the SQL Server support.

I have this instinct feeling this is a very bad idea.

No more SQL Server updates, I know, but even when that is reason enough for me to keep the support, my company thinks my Data Warehouse is running perfectly. So no reason to update "non existing" bugs, right?

My question for you is: Why would you keep the SQL Server support contract running?

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closed as primarily opinion-based by Paul White, swasheck, Shawn Melton, Kin, RolandoMySQLDBA May 28 '14 at 18:12

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

Are you referring to business support contracts or services from Microsoft, meaning you can submit an incident and talk to PFE at Microsoft? "Mainstream support" as referred to with product lifecycle is not something that is necessarily a paid service. – Shawn Melton May 28 '14 at 15:39

(By support I'm assuming that you are talking about software assurance.)

SA gets you two basic things.

  1. Phone Support
  2. Ability to upgrade

It also gets you some other stuff.

If you have a cluster and you have an Enterprise Agreement then you get something called license mobility which allows you to have a passive node for free. If you aren't clustered but are running within a VM license mobility gives you the ability to move the VM from host to host without issue. If you don't have license mobility then you can only fail over the cluster (or move the SQL VM from host to host) once every 90 days.

Given that Microsoft is moving to a short release cycle (18-24 months give or take) having SA makes sense if you plan on upgrading any time soon after the new version comes out.

Now if you don't care about that stuff and you ditch SA you can still call in and get support for SQL Server, but keep in mind that you'll be the last one in the queue to get a call back, and at the lowest priority. Now if you never call support that's fine, but when you do having SA in place pushes you up the chain from level 1 support to starting at level 2 support.

Now given that you are on SQL 2008 R2 today if you ever plan on upgrading to SQL 2012 or SQL 2014 if you don't have software assurance you have to purchase all new licenses to upgrade using the new licensing model. If you have software assurance you get to upgrade for free. So if you are using SQL 2008 R2 standard edition CPU licensing today a SQL 2014 upgrade might be really expensive all of a sudden due to the core licensing change which started in SQL Server 2012.

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Didn't the passive node thing change between 2012 and 2014? – Aaron Bertrand May 28 '14 at 15:51
Nope, it's just documented more specifically in the SQL 2014 licensing. If you have an EA (or what ever is replacing the EA) and SA then you get passive nodes for free. Without an EA and SA then you have to pay for passive nodes. It's actually always been this way. – mrdenny May 28 '14 at 20:34
My bad, I thought that something became more strict in 2014. Looking around, Jeremiah thinks so too. I believe you that it's always been this way (I stay as far away from licensing discussions as possible), but I bet most people don't believe you, since what's in the doc is what's in the doc, and what's not in the doc is, well... :-) – Aaron Bertrand May 28 '14 at 20:37
Yeah, it's common to think that's all new and scarey. That's just because of how poorly the old licensing stuff was worded. This just proves that you're smarter than I as I've already dove into the licensing pool more than once. – mrdenny May 28 '14 at 20:42

It's the same risk/reward trade-off as with any insurance policy. If your applications and their database are not expected to evolve, and you have a robust backup and recovery procedure, the risk of not having the vendor support is relatively low. I know companies that have been running unsupported Oracle instances since late 1990s.

However, any change to the system environment, hardware, or software components increases the possibility of discovering a software bug that may need vendor involvement. As a DBA or system administrator you need to make sure your management realizes that in the absence of the official vendor support your abilities to restore the system functionality are limited and that they will not hold you responsible for something that you physically cannot do.

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