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Still 32

January 28, 2013

I was listening to a presentation recently and the presenter talked about some of the restrictions in working with 32 bit SQL Server on 64 bit Windows hosts. Another person joked that any companies still running 32 bit software were way behind the times. I heard a comment that surely everyone runs 64 bit hardware these days, don’t they?

Do they? How many servers in large companies are still running on the x86 architecture? I know I have old laptops still running those processors, though I’d like to think that most companies have a hardware refresh rate that’s no longer than 5 years, and most laptops and servers would be x86.

The platform architecture, however, doesn’t necessarily imply our software has been upgraded to 64 bit. There are problems with various drivers that won’t run under 64-bit architectures. Excel is often a problem as SQL Server moves to 64-bit versions. There are 64-bit drivers, but the change, testing, etc. effort for many companies may not be worth pursuing. It can be annoying for us data professionals, but it’s a valid business decision. The same argument often applies to those companies running SQL Server 2000 (or older versions).

Five or six years ago I heard a presenter that worked for a large Fortune 100 company say that their policy was for applications to last ten years. That included the hardware and software, since the cost of change, whether through new software or major upgrades, was significant. With many companies still running SQL Server 2000, I suspect that many companies have a similar, unofficial, policy.

I don’t know whether the majority of software we use in our careers is 32 bit or 64 bit, but I am sure that we will have to deal with the former for years to come. You can complain about it, but you better learn to work with it.

Steve Jones


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2 Comments
  1. I’m not sure about 10 years, but in my office we are not only struggling to get off of our last couple of SQL 2000 servers but all of our desktops still run XP. Ours is a very large enterprise, so making a change, for example we are moving from XP to Windows 7, is a very time intensive process. Most of the time the project to make the change is a multi year project. This means that by the time the project to move on to the latest and greatest is completed, it’s already out of date.

  2. Completely agree. My wife’s former company (5k+ people) had her on XP until last Spring when she moved to W7. Even then, lots of people were still XP.

    I don’t know that it’s the same debate with servers as workstations because of scale. At this point, I’d hope most x86 servers were gone, if for no other reason than DR. Hard to replace x86 now, so those machines should be moved to x64 hosts running x86 VMs.

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