Upgrade Empathy

I’ve said before how much I think software upgrades are a key part of the job for any IT professional. We at SolarWinds have been striving over the last several years to make upgrades safer, easier, and faster for our users. We want all our customers on the latest and greatest release as soon as possible. When customers can share success stories about the new features, it’s a party and we love celebrating with you. But over the past year, we realized some of you didn’t get the invitation to the party because of a technical decision we made at SolarWinds—to remove support for Windows and SQL Server 2012.

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Article Summary

  • Windows Server 2012 and SQL Server 2012 are supported for Orion-based product versions 2020.2.
  • SQL Server Express is supported for Network Performance Monitor installations monitoring less than 250 elements.

Upgrade/Migration Options

When the decision was originally made, it was the correct call given the data we had. Microsoft had announced End of Life, End of Sale, and End of Support dates for those servers and adoption of newer versions was happening all the time. Add in the impending shift to move everything to the cloud and it was time to remove support for these aging, if reliable, server platforms.

What we heard in the interim from customers was their organization couldn’t support the newer platforms and they were forced to continue to run on the 2012 servers. There were any number of reasons ranging from server image requirements, to security standards, to financial and budgeting purposes for customers to stay on these “legacy” servers. But based on our initial research, we assumed organizations staying on these versions were going to be a minority and they would either build new in the cloud or upgrade within a year. Both we and Microsoft found out this was not the case. The overwhelming use of these versions was such a factor that Microsoft has since started offering extended support for Windows Server 2012 and 2012 R2 until October 2023. That’s just shy of 11 years from the server’s release date (3,977 total days if you were interested).

As they say, “time makes fools of us all,” and after listening to our customers and community, this was a mistake we wanted to rectify. First and foremost, for the Orion Platform 2020.2 products, we made a conscientious effort to re-introduce support for these server versions. Secondly, we’ve introduced full support for SQL Server Express for use with Network Performance Monitor monitoring up to 250 elements. Thirdly, we support deployment of the Orion Platform products in Amazon or AWS, including use of the cloud-based database technology as well. This means if you’re internally blocked from moving up to a new server or database version today, many options are still available to get all the benefits of the 2020.2 releases.

We haven’t changed our stance on supporting newer versions of Windows and SQL Server. If you can, we encourage you to move up to more recent versions (including SQL Server on Linux if that’s your thing) to get their added performance, scaling, features, security patches, and longevity of support. The full list of compatible Windows and SQL Server versions are listed in our compatibility matrix.

We’re trying to offer as many options for your upgrade as possible, because not every company is one-size-fits-all. If you’ve previous pushed off an upgrade because of the need to move off your 2012 platforms, we hope we’ve assuaged some of your fears. Go to your Customer Portal now and download the newest releases to take advantage of the faster load times and dramatic scalability increases. Now that you know you can upgrade to the latest and greatest versions, what new feature are you excited to see in your environment?