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Microsoft Switching SQL Server to Bimonthly Cumulative Updates

Microsoft on Monday announced a couple of SQL Server changes, including a change to the delivery schedule for cumulative updates (CUs), along with a change to how slipstreamed media will work for new deployments.

These new servicing changes apply to SQL Server 2017, as well as newer SQL Server products. They'll also apply to SQL Server 2019, which was announced at the preview stage during the Microsoft Ignite conference last month.

First, under the new approach, CUs -- which contain all past updates, including quality and security updates -- will arrive on a bimonthly basis after the first year, according to Microsoft's announcement. Last year in September, Microsoft had announced a servicing policy change in which CUs would arrive quarterly after the first year, but that policy is now revised to become a bimonthly release.

Microsoft also announced a date when SQL Server 2017 will switch to the new schedule.

"CUs will move to a bi-monthly (every other month) release cadence starting with CU13 [for SQL Server 2017] on 12/18/2018," the announcement indicated.

The old quarterly release approach had just been "too burdensome on customers," Microsoft claimed in making the policy change.

The second change concerns a SQL Server deployment option that Microsoft had described in September 2017. Back then, Microsoft had indicated that slipstream media would be available with the release of SQL Server 2017 CU12. However, the release of that slipstream media is not going to happen under the new plan.

"Slipstream media will NOT be provided for SQL Server 2017 CU12, or any subsequent CU," the announcement indicated.

Instead of slipstreaming a CU into a new deployment of SQL Server, Microsoft wants IT pros to install the SQL Server RTM (release to manufacturing) version, and then add "the desired update media." Here's how Microsoft described that preferred approach, called "manual slipstreaming":

In place of slipstream CU media, we recommend utilizing slipstreaming capabilities that already exist in SQL Server setup that utilize the RTM media and the desired update media. This 'manual slipstreaming' is done through the use of the /UPDATESOURCE=<path to desired update media> setup command line argument for an Install or Upgrade operation. For details on this, please see Install SQL Server from the Command Prompt.

In September of last year, Microsoft had dropped the option to use service packs to update SQL Server. Back then, Microsoft said it preferred that IT pros just install SQL Server and update it with a slipstreamed CU. Now, Microsoft wants IT pros to follow the manual slipstreaming approach, as described above.

In the Monday announcement, Microsoft argued that the older CU slipstream approach wouldn't permit organizations to opt for deploying either monthly CUs or monthly security-only updates, and that's why it opted to make this policy change.

Possibly, the slipstreaming approach for SQL Server will get further improved, the announcement suggested, but no details were provided.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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