SQL Server 2012 SP2 Arriving Sometime in 2014
Microsoft said that Service Pack 2 for SQL Server 2012 will be released "later this year."
No other details were provided in the brief announcement. In addition, the earlier generation SQL Server 2008 products will lose "mainstream" product support on July 8, 2014, according to the announcement. The end of mainstream support comes about midway in Microsoft's 10-year product lifecycle for business products and signifies the loss of some perks, such as no-charge incident support, warranty claims and responses to feature requests by customers.
Microsoft first released SQL Server 2012 back in April 2012. Service Pack 1 arrived in November of that year. That SP1 release coincided with the PASS Summit event. This year's PASS Summit event for SQL server professionals happens during the week of November 4, so possibly, that might be when SP2 for SQL Server 2012 might appear.
Microsoft announced a new faster release pace for its products late last year, and has suggested that service pack releases won't be the weighty events that they have been for IT pros. For instance, on the Exchange side, SP1 for Exchange 2013, which will arrive early this year, will be the equivalent of Cumulative Update 4.
Some technology reporters have claimed that Microsoft has now eliminated service packs altogether. However, Microsoft still appears to be using that service pack nomenclature, at least for 2012 products. Per Microsoft's definition, a service pack can contain new customer-requested design features, along with a collection of updates and security fixes.
Still, organizations updating SQL Server have the unenviable task of trying to figure out what Microsoft has released, and installing service packs has been a shortcut for busy IT pros to get it all wrapped up in a single release. For instance, Microsoft lists all of the Cumulative Update builds that were released after SP1 for SQL Server 2012 at this page.
However, IT pro Kendra Little cautions in an overview article, published by the Brent Ozar Unlimited consultancy, that Cumulative Updates should only be installed if an organization is affected by a particular issue described in the update.
Microsoft also issues hotfixes for problems existing in the interim before the next Cumulative Update release. Little recommends subscribing to RSS feeds of Knowledge Base article releases to find out about those releases.
Microsoft's next relational database management product, SQL Server 2014, is currently released at the Community Technology Preview 2 test stage, but it's due for some form of new release at the end of March.
Kurt Mackie is online news editor for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.