I'm trying to get an idea of what recommended best practices are for the SQL Server Cumulative Updates.
Currently, we run on the idea of "do nothing unless an issue fixed by the CU is one we experience". That works from an "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" approach, but I'm wondering if that's really a good idea since so many of the CUs have performance enhancements. We're looking at perhaps adding the CU to the patches applied during our periodic maintenance cycles a month or two after the CU is released.
What do others do, and why?
As an update to the question that affects the answers below, on March 24, 2016, Microsoft's SQL Server team announced they were updating their servicing model. Microsoft is recommending that all users install all CUs released after January 2016:
As of January CU releases, these caution messages have been updated, we now recommend ongoing, proactive installation of CU’s as they become available. You should plan to install a CU with the same level of confidence you plan to install SPs (Service Packs) as they are released. This is because CU’s are certified and tested to the level of SP’s. Also, Microsoft CSS data indicates that a significant percentage of customer issues are often previously addressed in a released CU, but not applied proactively. More so, CU’s contain added value over and above hotfixes. These also may contain supportability, logging, and reliability updates enhancing the overall experience.
In addition to messaging and guidance updates, we have made updates to the CU acquisition model.
- CUs, of course, have traditionally been made available on the “Hotfix” server (accompanied by the “cautionary language” associated with a ‘QFE’ or ‘Hotfix’). The inconsistency here is that CUs are not really simple quick hotfixes anymore. The encompassed updates are well tested at individual as well as full system integration levels today.
- Therefore, we are now placing the latest CU per mainstream supported baseline (2012 SP2/SP3 and 2014 RTM/SP1 today) on microsoft.com/downloads, just as is done for Service Packs today
- Additionally, we will soon release, and maintain, all CUs into the Windows Update Catalog to facilitate acquisition and distribution
- Only interim CU ‘On-Demand’ fixes will be placed on the hotfix server moving forward
- To reduce friction, downloading CUs from the microsoft.com/downloads will not require providing/receiving an email and URL
- We are also evaluating offering the latest CU as an Optional update on Microsoft Update, just like Service Packs today