The coming end of Microsoft SQL Server 2008/2008R2’s support in July 2019 and the end of Windows 2008’s support in January 2020 means California agencies are evaluating their options to migrate to cloud environments. In December 2018, the California Department of Technology issued a Technical Alert[1] reminding state agencies and departments to begin immediately planning for the migration from Windows 2008 servers to the cloud if they haven’t already done so. This migration will allow California’s government to take full advantage of the scalability, efficiency, security, and cost savings that cloud services can provide government agencies when compared to traditional on-premises solutions – an exciting prospect no matter if you are a government IT manager or an agency with an important public mission.

Migrating to the cloud used to be complicated. Information technology managers were frustrated at the time, cost, and scope of moving databases and virtual machines to the cloud. That really isn’t true anymore with migration programs offered by cloud providers.

AWS has a Database Migration Service that will live-migrate a running production database non-disruptively into and out of the cloud – at no cost. Managing databases has a large janitorial component that consumes time but does not add business value. As a result, many customers are moving to a managed service. State customers can use Amazon Relational Database Service (RDS) and enjoy a fully managed database service with patching, backups, and master-slave automated deployments. Notably, they can also do a one-click upgrade from SQL Server 2008 to 2016.

When it comes to virtual machines, AWS has a Server Migration Service, which allows state agency customers to migrate their Windows 2008 virtual machines into AWS at scale – also at no cost.

Understandably, customers sometimes will need more help to do a successful migration. That is why cloud providers like AWS have lots of available programs and assets – from tutorials to partners – in place to help customers through each step of the migration process. One increasingly popular option is VMware Cloud on AWS. State customers running their workloads on VMware can quickly and easily move their VMWare workloads to AWS.

For state government agencies that use SQL Server, they should also note that upgrading to the latest version and running the database in compatibility mode ensures that dependent applications continue to run as before, as well as benefiting from the latest security enhancements available with the most current version of the technology.

Migration to the cloud offers many benefits to modernize the state of California’s information technology and ensure all agencies and departments can focus maximum resources – both human and financial – on their mission. To achieve this worthy goal, it is important that agencies and departments understand all the options before them. AWS’s customer obsession, its broad and deep menu of available services, and its long experience with Microsoft workloads all point to it being worth very thoughtful consideration.