Product Blog

1 Post authored by: sqlrockstar Employee

SQL Server upgrades are a pain, I know.

 

And boring, too. It’s not very exciting to watch a progress bar.

 

Many people put off upgrading SQL Server. They wait for a business reason or an important security patch. Or, as was the case historically, they wait for the first service pack. After all, if it ain’t broke, don’t touch it.

 

I’m here today to tell you those days are over.

 

No longer can you sit back and allow systems and applications to lag behind with regards to patches and upgrades. You must stay current. Allowing applications to be more than one major version behind puts you, and your systems, at greater risk for security threats than ever before.

 

Microsoft has made it easier to upgrade and patch SQL Server. They’ve removed service packs, opting instead for cumulative updates. By shifting to a model that is similar to continuous deployment, Microsoft is able to deliver features, performance improvements, and security enhancements at a faster rate than ever before.

 

So, if you are waiting for SQL Server 2017 SP1, you’ll be waiting forever.

 

Don’t wait. Get started on upgrading SQL Server to the latest version today.

 

Let me help you understand just a few of the reasons why upgrading SQL Server is right for you.

 

Reasons for Upgrading SQL Server

As I mentioned before, it’s just common sense to stay current with the latest version of SQL Server. Microsoft has built tools like the Database Migration Assistant to help make upgrades easy. Applying cumulative updates has also been simplified. And because Microsoft hosts millions of database workloads inside of Azure SQL Database, you can be assured that these updates have been tested thoroughly.

 

Here’s a handful of the features available, out of the box, when you upgrade to the latest version of SQL Server.

 

Automatic database tuning – The ability for the database engine to identify and fix performance problems.

 

Adaptive query processing – While processing the execution plan, SQL Server will adapt query plans as necessary, essentially tuning itself instead of reusing the same plan.

 

Data security and privacy featuresAlways Encrypted, Dynamic Data Masking, Row Level Security, Data Discovery and Classification, and Vulnerability Assessment are all new, and all awesome.

 

Those are just a handful of the improvements. You will also find things like faster DBCC CHECKDB, improved backup security, and a new cardinality estimator. All those are great features worth your time for upgrading.

 

But there’s one more thing: the Orion® Platform.

 

See, we’ve been busy refactoring the Orion Platform to take advantage of newer SQL Server features.

 

Reasons for Upgrading Your Orion Installation

When I’m at an event performing demos, I am surprised how many customers haven’t upgraded to the latest version of the Orion Platform. Of course, I understand the many reasons why upgrades are put on the back burner.

 

I’m here today to help you understand that there’s more to the latest Orion version than a few fancy screens.

 

By using columnstore indexes, we have reduced the size of the Orion database (up to 33% less space), the amount of time it takes to perform maintenance (up to 6x faster on average), and the amount of time to retrieve data (up to 10x faster). That’s a lot of performance gains.

 

Table partitioning allows Log Manager for Orion to scale, accommodating multiple log sources, and the ability to quickly display all logs in time sequential order. As anyone that has had to analyze logs will tell you, it’s important to be able to quickly see all events in the exact order they occurred.

 

Also, in-memory OLTP helps products that leverage the Orion Platform achieve a high rate of concurrency, accelerating performance and scalability.

 

Those features sound great, but don’t just take my word for it. You should read about the SQL Server features being used by NetFlow Traffic Analyzer (NTA) over at this FAQ page.

 

Now, at the bottom of that page, I want to call out something else that you will find interesting…

 

“You can install your NTA Flow Storage database and your Orion database in the same instance of MS SQL, provided that instance is an MS SQL 2016 SP1 or later version.”

 

That’s right, upgrading to the latest version of NTA allows you to consolidate your SolarWinds footprint. For customers paying by the core for SQL Server licensing, this alone should motivate you to upgrade.

 

I’ll make it easy for you: here’s a link to help you get started. Also, here’s the official upgrade guide located on our Customer Success Center.

 

I’ve also written some other in-depth posts about tips and tricks on upgrading SQL Server. Have a look—I believe you’ll find the information useful.

 

Summary

At the end of the day, we want the same thing that any company would want: happy customers.

 

By upgrading to the latest version of SQL Server, and then the Orion Platform, our customers can see benefits immediately. Not just in performance, but in your wallet.

 

Continuous improvement is the world in which we live now. Stop thinking of upgrades as a chore or a task to get past. Upgrade because you want to, not because you have to.

 

The SolarWinds trademarks, service marks, and logos are the exclusive property of SolarWinds Worldwide, LLC or its affiliates. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners.

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