SQL Server 2005 Upgrade Fact Finding Mission

Due to constraints such as budgets, staff, and overhead it may only be feasible for a shop to move from SQL Server 2000 to 2005 instead of going straight to SQL Server 2008. There are plenty of resources on the internet that cover the advantages and pitfalls that one might encounter during the leap of faith, but I hope that by documenting my own experience I might help others have an easier transition.

One of the first stops for anyone interested in upgrading should be reading the following papers from Microsoft:
SQL Server 2005 Upgrade Handbook
SQL Server 2005 Upgrade Technical Reference Guide

After you’ve digested nearly 400 pages of information you should at least have a grasp on the initial concepts of what you are about to undertake and possibly even have a rough idea of what your game plan will be.  The biggest positive is that we can learn from all of those who have gone before us since we aren’t exactly breaking new ground. SQL Server 2008 has even been out for some time now, and hopefully you have investigated whether or not you should bypass SQL Server 2005. A few resources on that can be found at:

http://blog.scalabilityexperts.com/2008/01/28/upgrade-sql-server-2000-to-2005-or-2008/
http://searchsqlserver.techtarget.com/tip/0,289483,sid87_gci1325303,00.html

http://www.sqlservercentral.com/articles/Administration/3094/
http://sqlblog.com/blogs/denis_gobo/archive/2008/07/09/7753.aspx

In our case, the decision to make a slow move towards SQL Server 2005 was made based on a previous purchase of the software coupled with the later knowledge of the amount of resources required to redo what we had already begun.

Once you’ve decided to go forward with your upgrade it would be wise to download the Microsoft SQL Server 2005 Upgrade Advisor. This product will tell you what issues you could possibly run into. It’s not going to cover everything that could possibly trip you up, but it’s a good starting point in educating yourself on what you have and where you are going.

You may also find that it would be beneficial to run the Microsoft SQL Server Best Practices Analyzer to look for any other issues that may be there if you have an inherited system. You may find that it’s a good time to do a little bit of cleanup before you upgrade and there’s no time like the present. I’ve found this tool useful in tracking down issues such  as stored procedures with a sp_ prefix, usage of Select *, and objects calling deprecated built in functions.

In Summary, I think that it would be wise to use this planning time to clean up issues with the current SQL 2000 instance before you move forward if you have the opportunity. While some of the issues you’ll find won’t prevent you from going forward, it seems that while you have your sleeves rolled up and you’re inside the system a little cleanup would reduce future maintenance issues. Of course, if your situation is anything like mine you will run into issues that just have to wait because there’s no way that modifications can be made in a timely manner without sidetracking the upgrade.