IT pros around the world were happy to hear that Windows Server 2019 is now generally available, and since there have been changes to the release. This is a huge milestone, and I would like to offer congratulations to the Microsoft team for launching the latest release of this amazing platform as a big highlight of Microsoft Ignite. As important as this new operating system is, there is an important though subtle point that I think needs to be raised. (And, don’t worry, Veeam can help.) This is the fact that extended support for both SQL Server 2008 R2 and Windows Server 2008 R2 will soon end. This can be a significant topic to tackle as many organizations have applications deployed on these systems.
What is the right thing to do today to prepare for leveraging Windows Server 2019? I’m convinced there is no single answer on the best way to address these systems; rather, the right approach is to identify options that are suitable for each workload. This may also match some questions you may have. Should I move the workload to Azure? How do I safely upgrade my domain functional level? Should I use Azure SQL? Should I take physical Windows Server 2008 R2 systems and virtualize them or move to Azure? Should I migrate to the latest Hyper-V platform? What do I do if I don’t have the source code?
These questions are natural and need to be asked as we plan the move to Windows Server 2019, but how do we get there without any surprises? Let me reintroduce you to the Veeam DataLab. This technology was first launched by Veeam in 2010 and has evolved in every release and update since. Today, this technology is just what many organizations need to safely perform tests in an isolated environment to ensure that there are no surprises in production. The figure below shows a data lab:
Let’s deconstruct this a bit first. An application group is an application you care about--and it can include multiple VMs. The proxy appliance isolates the DataLab from the production network, yet reproduces the IP space in the private network without interference via a masquerade IP address. With this configuration, the DataLab allows Veeam users to test changes to systems without risk to production. This can include upgrading to Windows Server 2019, changing database versions, and more. Over the next weeks and month or so, I’ll be writing a more comprehensive document in whitepaper format that will take you through the process of setting up a DataLab and doing specific tasks, such as upgrading to Windows Server 2019 or a newer version of SQL Server, as well as migrating to Azure.
Another key technology where Veeam can help is the ability to restore Veeam backups to Microsoft Azure. This technology has been available for a long while and is now built into Veeam Backup & Replication. This is a great way to get workloads into Azure with ease starting from a Veeam backup. Additionally, you can easily test other changes to Windows and SQL Server with this process: Put it into an Azure test environment to test the migration process, connectivity and more. If that’s a success, repeat the process as part of a planned migration to Azure. This cloud mobility technique is very powerful and is shown below for Azure:
If you're asking "Why Azure?" it's because Microsoft announced that Extended Security Updates will be available for free in Azure for Windows Server 2008 R2 for an additional three years after the end of support deadline. Customers can rehost these workloads to Azure with no application code changes, giving them more time to plan for their future upgrades. Read more here.
What also is great about moving workloads to Azure is that this applies to almost anything that Veeam can back up--Windows Servers, Linux Agents, vSphere VMs, Hyper-V VMs and more!
Migrating to the latest platforms is a great way to stay in a supported configuration for critical applications in the data center. The difference is being able to do the migration without any surprises and with complete confidence. This is where Veeam’s DataLabs and Veeam Recovery to Microsoft Azure can work in conjunction to provide you a seamless experience in migrating to the latest SQL and Windows Server platforms.
Have you started testing Windows Server 2019? How many Windows Server 2008 R2 and SQL Server 2008 systems do you have? Let’s get DataLabbing!
Rick Vanover (MVP, vExpert, Cisco Champion) is the director of Technical Product Marketing & Evangelism for Veeam Software based in Columbus, Ohio. Rick’s IT experience includes system administration and IT management; with virtualization being the central theme of his career recently.
Follow Rick on Twitter @RickVanover or @Veeam.