SQL Server

Why You Need Microsoft's Powerhouse Database Server

Databases power so many applications. From web and mobile apps to containers and massive enterprise platforms, it’s next to impossible to run a full-featured application or service and not have it use a database. Of the databases in use, the relational database still rules the landscape. Although big data tends to lean heavily on NoSQL-type databases, most server-side applications (such as WordPress, Nextcloud, Joomla, and Drupal) depend on the relational database.

When you think about relational databases on this level, there are a few main competitors: MySQL, MariaDB, PostgreSQL, and SQL Server. For many businesses, SQL Server is the most logical option. Why? Because it’s not only developed by Microsoft, it seamlessly integrates into other Microsoft platforms. So any business that primarily uses Windows Server will certainly look at the Microsoft offering first. And although SQL Server isn’t the most-used database in businesses (coming in third behind MySQL and PostgreSQL), it’s still widely used across the globe.

That means the chances are strong your business will, at some point, employ SQL Server.

SQL Server Developers Hiring Guide

  • How to choose the best
  • Interview questions
  • Job Description

What is SQL Server?

As we’ve said, SQL Server is a relational database, created and maintained by Microsoft. SQL Server can be installed and used on Windows, Linux, and macOS, so it’s not limited to the Microsoft operating system. SQL Server was developed for a wide range of applications, from single-machine apps to solutions that span entire clusters. 

Of course, SQL Server is more than just a relational database. In fact, this tool is considered an RDBMS, or Relational Database Management System. That means SQL Server includes all of the tools you need to create and manage relational databases. And, as the name implies, SQL Server uses the SQL query language (like most popular relational database platforms). Unlike most open-source RDBMS, SQL server is intrinsically tied to Transact-SQL, which is Microsoft’s implementation of SQL that includes a set of proprietary programming constructs.

SQL Server can be broken down into the following pieces:

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    External Protocols - which includes Shared Memory, Named Pipes, TCP/IP, and Virtual Interface Adapters.
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    Database Engine - which includes Database, Type System, Events/Exceptions, T-SQL, Stored Procedures, and SQLCLR.
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    Storage Engine - which includes Transactional Services, File Manager, Buffer Manager, and Lock Manager.
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    Query Processor - which includes Parser, Optimizer, SQL Manager, Database Manager, and Query Executor.
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    SQLOS API - which includes Lock Manager, Synchronization Services, Thread Scheduler, and Buffer Pool.

There are several SQL Server editions available:

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    Enterprise - targeted for high-end datacenter capability with unlimited virtualization and end-to-end business intelligence.
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    Standard - for basic data management and business intelligence databases for departments and small organizations.
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    Web - low cost of ownership edition for web hosters and web VAPs.
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    Developer Edition - intended for database development and testing.
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    SQL Server Expression - for small databases with a size up to 10 GB of disk storage capacity.

Why use SQL Server?

This is a challenging question, especially given there are free offerings that are not only more popular but more capable than Microsoft’s SQL Server in many situations. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t consider it, especially when SQL Server includes features like:

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    High performance (especially when running on Windows)
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    High availability
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    Scalability
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    Comprehensive Application Development
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    Ease of management
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    Open-source
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    Seamless integration into other Windows services
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    Intelligent query processing
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    Accelerated database recovery
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    AlwaysEncrypted with secure enclaves
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    Memory-optimized
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    Resumable index build
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    Can be used in Big Data Clusters
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    Resumable Online Index Create
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    Always On Availability Groups

Another standout feature is only available to SQL Server on Linux. It’s machine learning integration. Given how many businesses are now adopting this subset of AI, this could be a crucial feature for your company moving forward.

Yet another very important reason to use SQL Server is that most of your IT staff are already familiar with Windows. Unlike using, say, MySQL, MariaDB, or PostgreSQL (where your admins might have to first learn Linux), SQL Server is perfectly at home on Windows. That means the barriers to entry are considerably lower than you might find with other databases.

What You Need to Know to Use SQL Server

To get the most out of SQL Server, you’ll need to first understand how relational databases work. And using a database on this level is well beyond that of MS Access.

Although there are plenty of GUI-based admin tools for SQL Server, the majority of your work will be through the command-line interface (CLI). That means those staff who will be working with SQL Server must know the SQL query language. And even though  SQL Server doesn’t require knowledge of any programming language, SQL should be considered a must-have skill for any SQL Server DBadmin.

Your SQL Server DB admins should also know different SQL dialects and basic SQL syntax. With at least a basic understanding of SQL, your admins will be able to take on tasks like:

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    Creating databases and tables.
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    Modifying database table and index structures.
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    Adding, updating, and deleting table data.
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    Retrieving data from a database for transaction processing and analytics.

Additionally, those staff members should have a solid understanding of how SQL Server databases can be used and integrated into various types of applications and services.

The best way for your admins to learn SQL Server is to download and install the free developer edition. Once installed, they’ll want to learn how to create and modify databases and eventually learn more complex tasks.

Conclusion

SQL Server has been a long-standing favorite for companies around the globe. When your business finally reaches the point where data becomes tantamount to success, consider starting with this outstanding database server. And although the cost might seem prohibitive, remember that world-class support comes with it. So when your admins run into trouble, if they can’t find the solution online, they can always turn to Microsoft for the answer.

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