With the official end of life looming (RIP, April 12, 2016) for the up to 2 million-plus servers running some form of Microsoft\u2019s popular relational database management system,SQL Server 2005, putting in place a migration plan is not optional\u2014it\u2019s a must. For most, staying with Microsoft represents the least painful alternative, although this is not without its challenges. In addition to the current successor, SQL Server 2014, other options include SQL Server 2012, the eventually-to-be-released SQL Server 2016 or Azure SQL Database (cloud). Read on for the four steps to a successful SQL migration that should be top of mind.\nDiscover\nThe first step is to discover which applications and workloads are running on Windows Server 2005 today. You also need to consider if a server refresh is also in order.\nAssess\nThe next step is to assess your infrastructure and categorize applications and workloads by type, importance, and degree of complexity. Depending upon which SQL path you choose, have your migration team take the appropriate upgrade course to accelerate certifications in the skills required to maintain the replacement DBMS, i.e. Upgrading Skills to Windows Server 2012 Jump Start or Azure SQL.\nYou should also consider architectural options for the migration. This is an opportunity to determine if database or server consolidations are in order, which can lead to reductions in operations and licensing expenses.\nTarget\nPrior to taking the third step, you should test drive your replacement to familiarize yourself with its capabilities. Once you're comfortable with it, target a migration destination for each application and workload upon migration.\nMigrate\nThe fourth and final step is to officially migrate from Windows Server 2005, either building your migration plan internally or together with a partner.\nMoving to a modern infrastructure and databases \u201cis not an insignificant task,\u201d notes my colleague Jonathan Clark, a Product Line Manager for Microsoft at PC Connection, Inc. Fortunately, there are a variety of useful evaluation, planning resources and migration toolkits available from Microsoft, i.e. the Microsoft SQL Server 2005 upgrade website, SQL Server 2012 and SQL Server 2016.