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Microsoft Insight: End of Extended Support – SQL Server 2012 and Windows Server 2012/R2

In 2022 and 2023 Microsoft will be ending Extended Support for SQL Server 2012 and Windows Server 2012/R2 respectively.

Start preparing for Microsoft’s end of Extended Support for SQL Server 2012 and Windows Server 2012/R2

In 2022 and 2023 Microsoft will be ending Extended Support for SQL Server 2012 and Windows Server 2012/R2 respectively.  Microsoft customers can purchase an Extended Security Updates (ESU) subscription if they wish to extend their support beyond this date, but is this the right choice for your organization? In this article we look at ESU in more detail and consider alternative options, before setting out our suggested next steps if your organization is impacted by these end-of-support deadlines.

Products End of Extended Support ESU End Date Year 1 ESU End Date Year 2 ESU End Date Year 3
SQL Server 2012 12/07/2022 11/07/2023 09/07/2024 08/07/2025
Windows Server 2012/R2 10/10/2023 08/10/2024 14/10/2025 13/10/2026


What happens beyond Microsoft’s End of Extended Support dates?

Organizations will no longer receive technical support nor critical security patches from Microsoft beyond the End of Extended Support dates for on-premise deployments of the products unless they purchase Extended Security Updates (ESU) subscriptions. Sound familiar? Yes, this is the exact same process as Microsoft first introduced in 2019 for SQL Server 2008/R2 and Windows Server 2008/R2.

Microsoft’s 2008/R2 end of Extended Support was bad enough and with most companies having an even larger footprint of 2012/R2 servers, it is imperative that organizations start planning their next steps. Otherwise, like in 2019, organizations will be caught between a rock and a hard place, facing either IT security risks or a severe bill for ESU subscriptions.

For those less familiar with the process, let us explore the basics:

What is Microsoft’s Extended Security Updates (ESU) program?

It is simply an annual subscription for Critical Security updates for on-premise software but does not provide technical support.


However, ESU subscriptions are still a prerequisite for customers to be able to leverage technical support through SA for the applicable products. As such, for all intents and purposes you can think of ESU as a subscription to provide both technical support and Critical Security Updates for the applicable products.

What are the issues with the Microsoft ESU subscription?

Technically and conceptually, this is nothing new and alarming – other publishers have been doing similar things for years. However, there is one thing that sets Microsoft ESU subscriptions apart – the prohibitive cost of 100% of license costs each year.

Note that this cost is on top of the prerequisite SA cost for server products (25% of the license fee). In addition, an organization must maintain coverage of ESU subscriptions if they wish to purchase ESU subscriptions in years 2 or 3. That is to say if an organization had not onboarded onto ESU until Year 3 then they must buy 3 years of ESU subscriptions.

What should I do with my 2012/R2 servers?

With how cumbersome the average upgrade, migration or decommissioning process is, organizations should start reviewing their estate now and plan their next course of action for any 2012/R2 servers identified in the estate.


  • Upgrades and decommissions

Let’s start with the simplest item, identify which servers can be safely upgraded or are unused and can be decommissioned. So long as the servers are either upgraded or decommissioned ahead of Microsoft’s End of Extended Support dates then there are no issues.

  • Migrate to Azure

For servers that have to stay at 2012/R2 for compatibility reasons, explore the possibility of migrating these instances to Azure ahead of Microsoft’s End of Extended Support dates. ESU subscriptions is included within Azure and technical support is included within Azure Support plans.

In addition, with this option you can look to leverage the SA benefit, Azure Hybrid Benefit, in order to lower Azure costs by leveraging your existing on-premise spend.

  • Isolate systems

Unfortunately, there will be some 2012/R2 systems that cannot be upgraded for compatibility reasons and where a migration to Azure is not feasible, the “too-heavy-to-lift”. For these servers, a potential route to circumvent the ESU subscriptions is to review with your IT security team whether these servers can remain unpatched so long as you isolate them from the rest of the network.

For many low workload legacy servers that don’t get patched and do not require any Vendor provided technical support, this may be a viable option.

  • Purchase Extended Security Updates (ESU) subscriptions

Most likely, there will be a subset of servers where ESU subscriptions are required but the aim is to minimize the purchasing requirements through the actions above. In addition, once you have identified the subset of servers that will require ESU subscriptions, you can also explore the possibility to ring-fence these servers in dedicated clusters to minimize the license footprint (and thus the ESU footprint).

Hopefully, this article has helped you understand the impacts of Microsoft’s upcoming end of Extended Support for SQL Server 2012 and Windows Server 2012/R2 and what to do next. If you require any further information or assistance regarding your Microsoft ESU subscriptions or any other licensing topic, please do not hesitate to contact us.

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