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So, after StackStatus's announcement about tomorrow's database upgrade earlier, I looked up more information about SQL Server 2014 CTP2. This is what I found.

The important parts of this page are as follows:

The Microsoft SQL Server 2014 CTP2 release is NOT supported by Microsoft Customer Services and Support (CSS).

and

The Microsoft SQL Server 2014 CTP 2 release is available for testing purposes only. The Microsoft SQL Server 2014 CTP 2 release should NOT be installed and used in production environments, including side-by-side with a production instance of SQL Server.

This is the version of SQLServer the entire network is being moved over to, a version that Microsoft explicitly warns you not to use in production environments? And a version they also won't support if something goes wrong?

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Well, according to this answer by Nick: "Windows 2008 R2 server clustering on top of which SQL 2012 Always on Availability groups are built is buggy as hell" - probably they gave up trying to fix all the bugs, customer services or not. –  Shadow Wizard Nov 8 '13 at 21:51
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I suspect that Stack Exchange has a special relationship with Microsoft on this one. –  Martijn Pieters Nov 8 '13 at 21:51
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@MartijnPieters yeah, SE is doing QA for Microsoft! ;) –  Shadow Wizard Nov 8 '13 at 21:52
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I would bet money that Stack Exchange may be getting a little more support from Microsoft due to the high visibility of the site. –  Zane Nov 8 '13 at 21:53
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@Servy so Jon Skeet's answer about some end user using Visual Studio is analogous to Stack Exchange migrating to a CTP? Is Jon Skeet an employee and is that answer really supposed to represent the corporate policies of Stack Exchange? You need to be careful about confusing what Joe Schmoe off the street can do with downloads they find on MSDN with what an established customer working directly with MS can do. –  Aaron Bertrand Nov 8 '13 at 22:08
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Incidentally, StackExchange has run into a serious bug in CTP2. –  Powerlord Nov 25 '13 at 16:45

2 Answers 2

up vote 28 down vote accepted

You might be surprised to know that certain large customers are in programs with Microsoft called TAP (and RDP, thanks @bill, but way to go Microsoft on recycling yet another acronym). And they are certainly coached and supported in going to production with CTP releases, coordinated with the support team of course (nobody can go to production without hitting certain milestones and meeting certain requirements). This isn't Stack Exchange independently going, "hey, let's kick the tires on this beta we just downloaded."

I can assure you beyond a shadow of a doubt that if they're moving a current build to production, they have Microsoft's full support and undivided attention. Due to NDA I can't really speak much more to this, but your fears of things going wrong and Microsoft waving a big middle finger to this site are completely unfounded and have no chance of ever happening. Now, if you were to try to take your evaluation edition to production, you'd be on your own (and in a heap of legal troubles if you were big enough for them to care).

I would say you should worry about what you're doing with respect to your licensing agreements and terms of use with the software you're using and deploying to production. Stack Exchange isn't doing anything stupid and isn't putting the site at risk. And even if they were, hey, it's their business after all.

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There's also the RDP (Rapid Deployment Partner) program which I've been a part of. It was a good experience. See also jamesserra.com/archive/2011/10/what-is-microsoft-tap-and-rdp –  billinkc Nov 8 '13 at 22:08

What you may not realize is that Microsoft has a couple of programs that are specifically designed for situations like this. Here is a blog post from the WinCAT team that gives an example of such a program. @AaronBertrand has addressed them in his answer so I will rely on the ability of rational people to be able to synthesize the content of my answer with his.

Suffice it to say that if the strict requirements of TAP are met, then Microsoft throws tremendous CAT and PFE resources at such as this. "Unsupported" would then seem to be outside of the jurisdiction of these programs and means a random CTP2 downloader can't call in and get your trace dump analyzed or your Hekaton problems solved. What StackOverflow is doing by participating is in Microsoft's best interests to assist along the way. Also, SO is not the only, nor is it the first to run prod with SQL Server 2014. bwin has been doing this since SQL Server 2005 Beta.

Please note. This answer does not serve as guidance for seeking support on unsupported products but is rather intended to assuage the OP's fears that StackOverflow is putting themselves in a precarious position.

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