If you have installed or upgraded any Orion® Platform product module over the course of the last six months and were running Orion product modules on either Windows Server 2012, Windows Server 2012 R2, or SQL Server 2012, you probably noticed an ominous warning message notifying you that these operating system and SQL database versions are deprecated and will no longer be supported in a forthcoming release.
Windows Server 2012 / R2 Deprecation Notice
Microsoft SQL Server 2012 Deprecation Notice
If you didn’t encounter this message during your latest upgrade or install, not to worry. The above message only appears if Orion product modules are being installed or upgraded on an operating system or SQL database version that has been deprecated. If you're running several versions behind but have been keeping tabs on the release notes, eyeing all the wonderful features that await you when you do your next upgrade, you will find a similar deprecation verbiage there for every Orion module letting you know that you should upgrade from Windows Server 2012, Server 2012 R2, and SQL 2012 at your earliest convenience to stay current with later releases.
So what exactly is the purpose of these deprecation notices and why should I care?
Deprecation notifications such as these serve as sign postings to our customers of important impending changes in the matrix of operating systems and SQL database versions that will no longer be supported in future releases. These types of advanced notices were introduced at the request of customers like you. Their intention is to allow you ample opportunity to upgrade your environment prior to the release of newer Orion product module versions where these operating systems and database versions may no longer supported.
Life before Deprecation Notices
Prior to the inclusion of these deprecation notices, the only real way of knowing if an operating system or database version was no longer supported in the latest release of the Orion Platform was to download and attempt to install it. This was obviously much too late in the process, as by this point you likely only received approval from the change advisory board to upgrade your Orion install, and your window for downtime was narrow enough only to allow for the upgrade of your Orion product modules and not the operating system or database server that your Orion Platform resided upon. As you could imagine, this was a frustrating or even downright infuriating time to find out your upgrade was blocked. To prevent these types of mishaps from occurring, SolarWinds provides in-product deprecation notices one version in advance, warning customers that future releases are unlikely to support these older operating systems or SQL database versions.
My OS or SQL database version has been deprecated. How am I affected?
In short, you're probably not. These deprecation notices apply only to the absolute latest releases and are not applicable to previous versions of the product. There has always been zero requirement that customers upgrade to the latest version to continue receiving support. While we welcome and encourage all our customers to take full advantage of the latest enhancements and improvements included in newer versions of the product, this is not always possible or practical in every customer environment. Some organizations even have firm constraints that require them to stay at least one version behind the latest at all times.
For those reasons and more, we continue to fully support several previous released versions of Orion product modules at any given time. Suffice to say, if you're currently running NPM 12.3 or any other Orion Platform 2018.2 module release on Windows Server 2012, 2012 R2, or SQL 2012, there is no immediate impending requirement to upgrade. SolarWinds end-of-life policy helps ensure that these versions will remain fully supported, even when installed on Server 2012, 2012 R2, or SQL 2012.
Why are you deprecating my otherwise perfectly fine operating system or SQL database version?
Going forward, the Orion Platform and its related modules will begin to leverage new technologies only available in newer versions of SQL and Windows. New capabilities such as In-Memory OLTP, columnstore indexes, as well as partitioned tables and indexes aim to improve various aspects of performance and scalability for the entire Orion Platform, as well as the modules installed atop it. This will allow for accelerated website performance, shorter nightly database maintenance routines, reduced database size, and faster report generation, to name only a few areas of noticeable improvement.
Windows Server 2016 and 2019, as well as the version of IIS included with them, provide a host of important new security improvements that are critical to organizations of all sizes. These include things like supporting newer, stronger encryption ciphers, HTTP Strict Transport Security (HSTS) enabled websites, secure cookies, and more. While patches for specific critical security vulnerabilities will still be made available for Windows Server 2012 and 2012 R2, vital new security enhancements, bug fixes, and other notable improvements will only be available to later versions of the Windows operating system still under mainstream support.
How can I better plan for possible future OS and SQL deprecations?
While SolarWinds does everything reasonably possible to help ensure customers stay well informed of impending deprecations, some have asked for a longer-term outlook so they can plan their upgrade and server migration schedules accordingly. First, when selecting which operating system or database version to install Orion product modules on, we always recommend using the latest possible version of both. This decreases the likelihood of that operating system or database version being deprecated anytime in the foreseeable future, while also limiting the number of times you need to migrate your Orion installation to a newer server throughout its lifetime. To stay proactively ahead of any impending deprecation notices, however, you need only look to Microsoft's published product lifecycle for Windows and SQL Server.
Put simply, the Orion Platform will support Windows operating system and SQL database versions covered under Microsoft's Mainstream support that are available at the time of that versions GA release date.
I still have Windows and SQL 2012 in my environment. Can I continue monitoring those systems with Orion?
Absolutely! Monitoring Windows Server 2012 and SQL 2012 systems with the Orion Platform and its related modules remains fully supported, even in the latest releases. This support also extends to those systems monitored using the Orion Agent.
What Windows and SQL server versions exactly should I expect will be supported in the release following Orion Platform 2018.2?
The following table outlines those versions of SQL and Windows Server that will be supported in the Orion Platform release following version 2018.2:
Supported Operating System Versions
Supported Microsoft SQL Server Versions
Windows Server 2016
Windows Server 2019
I'm currently on Windows or SQL Server 2012. How do I upgrade?
In recent years, Microsoft has made the in-place upgrade process easier and more reliable than ever. In-place upgrades are likely also the fastest method for getting your Orion server up to the latest operating system or SQL database version. If an in-place upgrade isn't for you, SolarWinds provides a wealth of documentation on migrating your Orion Platform to a new server.
I need assistance with my next Orion upgrade, what options do you provide?
If you need a refresher course on the upgrade process, or a confidence boost that you're on the right track, you will find on-demand training videos and instructor-led virtual online classes you can attend for free through the Customer Portal. As always, if at any time you encounter an issue during your upgrade, don't hesitate to contact SolarWinds support for assistance. We are here 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year to help ensure you are successful using SolarWinds products.
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