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If my application server is Windows 2008 and my database server is Windows 2003 would I be at any disadvantage versus having both on Windows 2008?

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The question is far too vague. What applications, what database server? – John Gardeniers Oct 11 '09 at 2:31 web application accessing a MS sql database. – zsharp Oct 11 '09 at 3:52
up vote 8 down vote accepted

From the application's point of view - it shouldn't matter. The database should be abstracted-away from the application enough that no platform dependencies have been introduced.

From the management/maintenance point of view - I'd prefer they be on the same edition of the OS so that patch management is simplified.

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+1 for simplification; something that's often forgotten. – 21st Century Moose Oct 11 '09 at 13:00
+1 simple and to the point. – Roy Oct 11 '09 at 17:30

I don't know if this matters for you, but TCP traffic between Windows 6.x versions (WinVista, Win2008/Win7) is way more effective than 2003 because of the redesigned TCP Stack. If your application is data-intensive and thereby generates a lot of network traffic you should see some performance gains on a full 2008 platform compared to a mixed 2003/2008 platform.

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Security-wise I would think 2008 server on the DB server would be preferable, purely on account of the fact that it's a newer OS and therefore benefits from more recent thinking and better practices in this area. OK, it's not a front-facing server, and the setup should be such that only database traffic on specific ports from the app server can access it, but at the same time it's better not to take chances.

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-1 Security wise, new is not better. – Roy Oct 11 '09 at 17:29
Accepted that it can swing both ways but I think I outlined the perspective I was coming from well enough. – 21st Century Moose Oct 11 '09 at 18:25

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