It is very common for clients taking an Advantage feature update after a few years ‘parked’ on a previous release to ask for our updated system requirements. This question is also front of mind for prospective clients who are considering a new Advantage implementation. But if you’re a client who keeps current with monthly or quarterly feature updates, then reviewing the operating systems and databases that undergird your Advantage system might not be a primary concern.
At AdvantageCS, we’ve supported many operating systems and database management systems over the years. We’ve operated on Windows NT 3.5 to Windows Server 2019, several Unix variants, OpenVMS, even PRIMOS. And we’ve supported database management systems from Microsoft, Oracle, DEC and others. Our latest feature update, Advantage 2019 Update 10, runs on Windows Server 2016 or 2019 and SQL Server 2012, 2012 R2, 2016 or 2017.
We occasionally bump those minimum supported versions to allow our application to take advantage of new operating system and database features. Limiting the number of supported OS and DBMS releases also allows us to do a more thorough job testing our application on all the supported combinations. We’ll be bumping the minimum supported SQL Server version to SQL Server 2016 in the Advantage 2020 release, which will support SQL Server 2016, 2017, and 2019 (along with Azure SQL Database).
In the past, our approach to documenting changes to our system requirements was to simply mention the change in our release notes when the first affected Advantage feature update was published to clients. This approach did not allow for much advance planning by our clients, some of whom plan their IT infrastructure projects a year or more in advance. For the last few years, we’ve had a semi-official policy which we’ve shared at our US and European user group meetings but it was not formally published. In order to provide clear guidance to our customers, we’ve recently formalized this guidance by including it in the system requirements section of our online product documentation.
Each new Advantage feature update will be validated on Windows Server and SQL Server releases that shipped in the previous five years. When we released Advantage 2019.10 this month, Windows Server 2016/2019 and SQL Server 2016/2017 fit within that time window. However, we’ve decided to continue validating the Advantage 2019.10 release on SQL Server 2012 and 2014, even though they are outside the 5-year window. We’ll do that occasionally. However, with the Advantage 2020.0 release we’ll be depending on features introduced in SQL Server 2016 and so will be dropping support for the older SQL Server releases.
If you need to plan ahead for an Advantage update next year, it’s always safest to keep the 5-year window in mind. Based on the 5-year window, you can assume that Windows Server 2016 and SQL Server 2016 will be supported by all our 2020 feature updates – as will Windows Server 2019, SQL Server 2017, any new releases (SQL Server 2019) that ship between now and the Advantage 2020 release.
At AdvantageCS we don’t leave our clients ‘out to dry.’ You can see this clearly in our core values. While we may (no, will!) encourage you to apply an Advantage feature update at least once every few years, we’ll continue to provide support for our clients running on prior releases of the software. Those past releases of Advantage might be running on older operating systems and databases. That’s fine, as the minimum system requirements for an Advantage feature update are ‘locked down’ at the time the feature update is released. But… if you’re hanging out on an older Advantage release and sitting on an older operating system or database, do pay attention to the Microsoft end-of-life policies to ensure your systems are still receiving at least security updates. And make sure you regularly apply those security updates!