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Microsoft dropped the other proverbial shoe this week with the official announced that the end of life (EOL) for free support for the venerable Microsoft SQL Server database will occur April 16, 2016.

This was generally expected since Microsoft began beating the drum about EOL support for the Windows Server 2003 platform on which most of those databases are installed.

Microsoft wants to give customers plenty of notice about how much longer they can expect updates to a database that is now a decade or so old, said Tiffany Wissner, senior director of data platform marketing at Microsoft.

Ideally, Microsoft wants customers still running Microsoft SQL Server 2005 to upgrade to an instance of Microsoft SQL Server 2014, which Wissner notes is 13 times faster, or an instance of Microsoft SQL Server running in the Microsoft Azure cloud.

Of course, Microsoft is not the only cloud service provider delivering Microsoft database as a service in the cloud. Nor is it even a sure thing that customers using Microsoft SQL Server 2005 today are going to want to stay on that platform.

But a looming end-of-life support deadline for Microsoft SQL Server 2005 does make the deadline for EOL support for Windows Server 2003 all the more pressing. That may be especially good news for the channel because while IT organizations may be inclined to update an OS on their own, upgrading a database usually introduces a whole other level of complexity.

As such, channel partners might be well-advised to pay extra attention to opportunities involving the end-of-life of older Microsoft platforms—especially if they involve potentially lucrative data migration projects affecting multiple databases.

Michael Vizard has been covering IT issues in the enterprise for 25 years as an editor and columnist for publications such as InfoWorld, eWEEK, Baseline, CRN, ComputerWorld and Digital Review.