Background to SQL Server servicing

Historically, we have released Cumulative Updates (CUs) every 2 months after a major version is released, and roughly yearly Service Packs (SPs), containing fixes from all previous CUs, plus any feature completeness or supportability enhancements that may require localization. You can read more about the SQL Server Incremental Servicing Model (ISM) here.

Up to and including SQL Server 2016, RTM and any subsequent SPs establish a new product baseline. For each new baseline, CUs are provided for roughly 12 months after the next SP releases, or at the end of the mainstream phase of product lifecycle, whichever comes first.

For the entire product lifecycle, we release General Distribution Releases (GDRs) when needed, containing only security related fixes.

The Modern Servicing Model

Starting with SQL Server 2017, we are adopting a simplified, predictable mainstream servicing lifecycle:

  • SPs will no longer be made available. Only CUs and GDRs (when needed).
  • CUs will now accommodate localized content, allowing new feature completeness and supportability enhancements to be delivered faster.
  • CUs will be delivered more often at first and then less frequently. Every month for the first 12 months, and every quarter for the remainder 4 years of the full 5-year mainstream lifecycle.
  • CUs are delivered on the same week of the month: week of 3rd Tuesday.

Servicing lifecycle

The servicing lifecycle is unchanged from SQL Server 2016:

  • Years 0-5 (Mainstream Support): Security and Functional issue resolution though CUs. Security issues through GDRs.
  • Years 6-10 (Extended Support): Security or critical functional issues.
  • Years 11-16 (Premium Assurance): Optional paid extension to Extended Support (no scope change).

FAQ

Having questions is expected. Please read below in case we have already covered it in this FAQ.


Read more: Announcing the Modern Servicing Model for SQL Server | SQL Server Release Services