This article describes the updates to the SQL Server incremental servicing model (ISM) for SQL Server 2017 as they relate to the Service Pack (SP) policy. For more information about the changes to the SQL Server ISM, see An Incremental Servicing Model is available from the SQL Server team to deliver hotfixes for reported problems.
Note Earlier versions of SQL Server are not affected by this SP policy change. Service Packs (SPs) will continue to be provided for the reminder of mainstream support for SQL Server 2014 and SQL Server 2016.
SQL Server 2017 and later versions will no longer receive SPs
The Modern Servicing Model (MSM)
Starting from SQL Server 2017:
SPs will no longer be available. Only Cumulative Updates (CUs) and critical updates (GDRs) will be provided.
CUs will contain localized content if it's necessary as what SPs have done.
CUs will be delivered more frequently at first and then less frequently: every month for the first 12 months, and then every quarter for the final four years of the five-year mainstream lifecycle.
Note The MSM only applies to SQL Server 2017 and later versions.
Q: SPs were fully localized, and one update file was released for every supported language. How will this work with only CUs?
A: CUs will be localized starting from SQL Server 2017, and they will handle this requirement and continue only releasing a single language-agnostic update file.
Q: Microsoft provided "slipstream" packages (RTM+SPn in a single media package) at each SP at approximately yearly intervals. How will this work without SPs?
A: CU based slipstream media will be provided at approximately yearly intervals. For example, when CU12 for SQL Server 2017 is released, the slipstream media that has SQL Server 2017 CU12 preinstalled is also provided.
Q: Previously, when SP2 was released, for example, an instance on the RTM baseline would have to be upgraded to SP1 or SP2 to receive a hotfix. How will this work without SPs?
A: Without SPs, the only baseline will be RTM, and it will receive CUs for five years. There's no minimum servicing level requirement to receive CUs any longer.
Q: Is the SQL Server lifecycle policy affected because there are no SPs any longer?
A: No, the servicing lifecycle has not changed from SQL Server 2016 as it relates to mainstream and extended support.