One of the most frequent IT keyword is SQL. SQL stands for Structured Query Language which is used to manipulate databases. The Microsoft SQL Server (MSSQL) is a Relational Database Management System (RDBMS) that is widely used to manage enterprise information.
The latest release of the software is SQL Sever 2008 R2 and it runs under Windows operation systems like all the other Microsoft products. However it is recommended to install SQL Server on a Windows Server operating system. There are several versions of MSSQL with scalable pricing. The Datacenter and Enterprise editions are more expensive than the Standard version. As a contrast the Express and Compact versions are free and the Developer edition is relatively cheap.
The main competitors of the product are MySQL, DB2 and Oracle.
There are several implementations of the SQL but Microsoft uses Transact-SQL (T-SQL) and ANSI-SQL. These languages support to create the database architecture, store and manipulate the data and to retrieve the information from the database. The system also supports automation of several database maintenance.
The Microsoft SQL Server offer many valuable service for the users. There are tools to automate maintenance tasks and also to make development faster and more efficient. The main components of the MSSQL server are the Database Engine, Replication Services, Reporting Services, Analysis Services, Integration Services, Notification Services, SQL Agent and Service Broker.
SQL Sever offers several options for disaster recovery so you can build your own backup strategy. High availabilty is covered by log shipping, database mirroring and server clustering.
On a single MSSQL server you can create several databases. The data is stored in the so called tables. Each table contains records which can be represented as a row of the table. Every row can have several fields and each field has a data type. The most common data types are numeric (integer, float, decimal), alphabetic (char, varchar, text), binary and XML. You can set the length of the data. Also the users can define data types which suit their purposes.
You can create the tables with their fields, create indexes to support finding the data inside and create views to check data from different tables. The SQL queries can be used to obtain the information from the database. The MSSQL contains a built-in Query Optimizer which tries to automatically speed-up the data retrieval processes. There is a possibility to write stored procedures which are parameterizable queries.
The most common tools to manage the MSSQL server include SQLCMD, SQL Server Management Studio, Business Intelligence Development Studio and Visual Studio.