End-of-life software

With considerably short lifecycles, most IT departments replace their servers, phones, workstations, and software when they slow down over time, stop receiving operating system updates, or fall out of warranty. It is fair to say that in the ever-changing world of IT, not much is built to last.

In other cases, you may be forced to move on due to liabilities caused by end-of-life software (EOL). SQL Server 2008 is one such example. When Microsoft stops issuing updates and patches, end-of-life software versions are more vulnerable to security threats. Additionally, there is no guarantee that new applications would still be compatible with the old versions. However, even after EOL, some organisations continue to use old software. Perhaps the thought of upgrading or migrating seems too daunting, but using EOL software is very risky. Security and compliance lapses, customer loss, damaged reputation, and increased costs are just some of the risks of remaining on unsupported SQL Server versions.


When software reaches EOL, patches, bug fixes, and security upgrades stop. As a result, security is compromised because vendors no longer offer a security patch if a vulnerability is discovered. Firewalls and anti-virus software are not sufficient protection against unpatched vulnerabilities, which hackers are quick to exploit. Hackers can infiltrate networks, wreak havoc on infrastructures, and steal your data.

Compliance and regulation

Data loss and exposure of corporate and personal data can have a devastating impact on an organisation. The General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) that came into force in May 2018 mean that the cost in fines for data compromises could cripple even the largest organisations. GDPR is about risk assessment and mitigation. Organisations that are still using end-of-life software are knowingly increasing their levels of risk and are likely to face the heaviest penalties if their data is compromised. Using the most up-to-date software ensures you are protecting your data.

Damaged reputation

If a data loss occurs, your organisation will be accountable to shareholders, investors, customers, the ICO (Information Commissioner’s Office), the public, and perhaps even the courts. Admitting you did not keep your systems up to date can cause significant reputational damage.

Incompatible software

New applications are released on an almost daily basis, and these are optimised for the most recent operating systems. That means when using an end-of-life software, you cannot use the latest apps or upgrade to the latest versions. If you are holding on to legacy applications, you will not have access to the latest features and developments. This causes issues with your systems, as they are unable to communicate with each other.

Customer loss

Many customers will not work with an organisation that does not keep their systems up to date. Others will be forever lost in the event of a breach. According to a study by Microsoft, 20% of companies lose customers due to security attacks, and 30% lose revenue as a direct result.

Poor performance and reliability

If you are still running legacy apps or old versions of software, then you may have some ageing servers in your office too. This adds to your risk because out-of-warranty devices are prone to breaking down. The downtime could be costlier than an overdue upgrade.


Not buying the latest software version might initially save money, but the cost of one system failure will massively outweigh any savings made. With the likes of Office 365 and other Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) offerings, the upfront cost is likely to be much lower than you think.

In summary, there is no safe way to run EOL software. The risks typically outweigh the rewards. Lack of security, limited compatibility, increased costs, and compliance risks are all significant dangers with keeping EOL software.

Read our guide on SQL Server 2008 end-of-support that discusses the risks of staying on EOL SQL Server, and the upgrade paths to modernise your infrastructure.