Keeping up with SQL Server Versions

Have you ever heard the expression, “Keeping up with the Joneses”?  If not, it basically refers to comparing yourself to your neighbor in a social and economic way so as not to appear inferior.  However, depending on whom you ask, this may not be the best philosophy on life.

In contrast with that life philosophy, I would recommend that DBA’s “keep up with SQL Server Versions”.  Now, I realize that this phrase does not sound like a life philosophy, but it really can be very important for a DBA.

Why should you keep up with SQL Server versions?

  • Microsoft product lifecycle (http://support.microsoft.com/lifecycle/search/default.aspx?sort=PN&alpha=sql+server&Filter=FilterNO) – Since no product is supported forever, it is a good idea to keep in mind when a product loses mainstream support.  This way, you can take action or have a plan on what to do next.  For example, have you realized that SQL Server 2008 and SQL Server 2008 R2 are coming to the end of mainstream support on July 8, 2014?
  • Fixes for bugs and security issues (http://blogs.msdn.com/b/sqlreleaseservices/) – Keeping up with new versions helps to prevent potential problems that we may encounter from bugs or security issues.  Why wait until you are affected?  It is better to be proactive than reactive.
  • Using the latest and greatest features – Should I say anything else?  Getting familiar with new features can make your life easier now or just make your resume look better.

How do I find what SQL Server version I am using?

There are a variety of ways that you can find out what version of SQL Server version you are running and it is explored in this article (http://support.microsoft.com/kb/321185).

However, I find the following methods to be easiest using T-SQL:

SELECT @@VERSION

SELECT SERVERPROPERTY('productversion'), SERVERPROPERTY('productlevel'), SERVERPROPERTY('edition')

Other helpful suggestions:

  • Become familiar with the SQL Server build list (http://sqlserverbuilds.blogspot.com/ or http://sqlserverupdates.com/).
  • Collect the version information from all your SQL Servers and store it in a table.  This will help when you need to coordinate upgrades across environments (i.e. production, development, etc.) and versions (i.e. SQL Server 2005, 2008 R2, 2012, etc.).

So, hopefully you are now convinced on the benefits of “keeping up with SQL Server versions” as a DBA philosophy.

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