On February 25, 2020, Microsoft released SQL Server 2016 SP2 CU12, which is Build 13.0.5698.0. By my count, there are 33 public hotfixes in this cumulative update. This about an average number of hotfixes for a cumulative update. A number of these fixes do look pretty interesting.
Remember, both SQL Server 2016 RTM and SQL Server 2016 SP1 are out of support. This means they do not get any more cumulative updates.
For SQL Server 2016 SP2, Microsoft will continue to release a new CU every two months until SQL Server 2016 falls out of mainstream support on July 13, 2021. I have no idea if Microsoft is planning on releasing a SQL Server 2016 SP3 or not. My bet is that the answer is no. Remember, SQL Server 2017 and newer don’t have Service Packs, only Cumulative Updates.
Here is Microsoft’s official guidance about cumulative updates:
Microsoft recommends ongoing, proactive installation of CUs as they become availablehttps://support.microsoft.com/en-us/help/4536648/cumulative-update-12-for-sql-server-2016-sp2
- SQL Server CUs are certified to the same levels as Service Packs, and should be installed at the same level of confidence.
- Historical data shows that a significant number of support cases involve an issue that has already been addressed in a released CU.
- CUs may contain added value over and above hotfixes. This includes supportability, manageability, and reliability updates.
SQL Server cumulative updates are actually cumulative, which might seem obvious from the name. This means that when you install SQL Server 2016 SP2 CU12, you are going to get all of the hotfixes and product improvements from ALL of the previous SP2 CUs that were released after SP2 RTM. Microsoft has fixed hundreds of bugs since SQL Server 2016 SP2 RTM.
Despite some recent stumbles by Microsoft, I am still a big proponent of trying to keep your SQL Server instances as up to date as possible. That does not mean throwing a new CU into Production the day it is released. It also does not mean avoiding patching SQL Server indefinitely either. You really are better off trying to stay as current as possible on your SQL Server builds.
I recently published Performance and Stability Fixes in SQL Server 2019 CU Builds for SQL Server 2019. When I get time, I will have a similar document for SQL Server 2016 SP2.
Please let me know what you think in the comments. Thanks for reading!