SQL Server is a widely used database management system (DBMS) by organizations worldwide. This article provides an in-depth overview of its various editions, versions, architecture, and database platform services.
SQL Server is a widely-used relational database management system (RDBMS) that belongs to the Microsoft Enterprise Library. It was first created by Microsoft in 1989 with the aim of managing and storing data. SQL Server, like other RDBMSs, employs SQL, a programming language utilized for accessing and manipulating relational databases.
What Are the Applications of SQL Server?
SQL Server is a well-known and extensively used Relational Database Management System (RDBMS) in the present times. It can operate on multiple operating systems like Windows, Linux, and UNIX and can also be run on cloud platforms like Azure or AWS. The primary function of an SQL Server is to manage and store data, as well as perform data analysis and querying. It provides a consistent programming model and is known for its high performance, scalability, security, reliability, and manageability. Furthermore, SQL Server also offers a robust set of tools for data warehousing, analysis, reporting, ETL (Extract, Transform, Load), and OLAP (Online Analytical Processing).
History of SQL Server Versions
Microsoft and Sybase collaborated to release version 1.0 in 1989. However, their partnership ended in the early 1990s, and Microsoft retained the ownership of the name. Since then, there have been many subsequent versions of SQL Server, including SQL Server 2000, 2005, 2008, 2012, 2014, 2016, 2017, and 2019. Each version comes with a guarantee of at least 10 years of support, which is split into five years of mainstream support and five years of extended support.
Starting from 2012, let’s take a closer look at the major versions of SQL Server.
SQL Server 2012 introduced column store indexes, a new feature for storing large data in a column-based format, ideal for data warehousing and applications. Other notable features of SQL Server 2012 include user-defined server roles and AlwaysOn Availability Groups, an advanced functionality designed to ensure high availability and disaster recovery.
SQL Server 2014 saw major performance improvements and introduced new features, including In-Memory OLTP and the Buffer Pool Extension, which greatly improved OLTP applications. The Buffer Pool Extension allowed for integration between SQL Server’s buffer pool memory cache and a solid-state drive, providing an efficient and cost-effective way to enhance I/O performance.
SQL Server 2016 was created as a significant part of Microsoft’s technology strategy that prioritized mobile and cloud solutions. It was also the first version of the database management system that could run exclusively on 64-bit servers with x64 processors. Additionally, SQL Server 2016 introduced a new capability to run the database in Docker containers, which allows applications to operate independently on a shared operating system.
SQL Server 2017 introduced several significant features including support for running SQL Server on Linux, which opened up new opportunities for Microsoft to target customers who use non-Windows operating systems or have a mixed server environment. Another notable feature of SQL Server 2017 is the support for the Python programming language, a widely-used open-source language in analytics applications.
The release of SQL Server 2019 introduced several new features, including Big Data Clusters. This functionality allows users to deploy scalable clusters of SQL Server, Spark, and HDFS containers that can run on Kubernetes. Additionally, SQL Server 2019 includes enhancements to column store indexes, as well as the introduction of data virtualization capabilities and static data masking.
Popular SQL Server Editions
There are various editions of SQL Server available, including Standard, Web, Enterprise, Developer, and Express. These editions differ in their features and capabilities, and some of the main differences are outlined below:
- The Standard edition includes essential functionality for most applications, such as common development, data management, and database administration tools, to ensure efficient database management with minimal resources.
- The Enterprise edition, on the other hand, supports a wide range of data warehouse features and adds support for more users, databases, and transactions. It also includes advanced features like data compression, enhanced security, and support for large database sizes, making it the ideal choice for companies focused on scalability and performance.
- The Web edition is a low-cost option that differs from the Standard edition primarily in terms of its maximum memory for the buffer pool and maximum compute capacity.
- The Developer edition is designed for developers who need to create application products that will run on top of SQL Server. It provides the ability to create stored procedures, functions, and views, and contains all the functionality of the Enterprise edition but is licensed for use as a development and test system, not as a production system.
- Finally, the Express edition is the most limited version of SQL Server and is intended for use by individuals or small organizations. It does not include any of the advanced functionality of the other four editions and is the most accessible but also the least functional.
Relational Database Management Systems (RDBMS) offer a systematic way of storing, manipulating, and retrieving large amounts of data. SQL Server, like other RDBMS, follows a table-based structure that links related data elements in different tables to one another, eliminating the need to redundantly store data in various places within a database. Additionally, the relational model stores referential integrity and other constraints to maintain data accuracy. By following the ACID principles, database transactions are processed reliably.
SQL Server is a database engine that serves as a secure and accessible storage system for data processing. The engine comprises a relational engine to execute commands and queries, and a storage engine to manage the database file, tables, pages, indexes, data buffers, and transactions. Database objects such as stored procedures, triggers, and views are created and executed by the Database Engine.
SQL Server Operating System (SQLOS):
The SQL Server operating system, SQLOS, is the core of all database functionalities. It handles memory and I/O resources, jobs and processes accessing databases, and the TDS protocol for data transfer from server to client. Network interfaces manage communication between database servers and clients.
At the user level, SQL Server allows DBAs and developers to write T-SQL statements for developing and modifying database structures, managing data, implementing security measures, backing up databases, and more.
SQL Server Services and Tools
SQL Server comes equipped with a variety of supplementary services that can be classified as either integral components of the SQL Server or as external services running independently. These services are designed to offer additional functionalities that are not included in the core database management system. They expose their application programming interface (API) for interfacing with other applications. Below are some of the most frequently used services.
SQL Server includes several supplementary services that offer additional functionalities beyond the core database management system. One such service is SQL Server Integration Services (SSIS), which provides Extract, Transform, and Load (ETL) capabilities for data integration, warehousing, and import. SSIS offers tools for creating workflow tasks such as Data Flow Tasks, Control Flow Tasks, Script Tasks, Batch Data Operations, Data Conversion, and Data Loading.
Another useful service is SQL Server Data Quality Services (DQS), which is a knowledge-driven product that enables users to build a knowledge base and use it for critical data quality tasks such as correction, enrichment, and standardization.
SQL Server Master Data Services (MDS) allows users to manage a master set of company data by controlling who updates the data, organizing the data into models, and creating rules for updating the data. The master data set can be shared with other users within the organization, making it a useful tool for data management and collaboration.
SQL Server Data Tools is used for developing data analysis and business intelligence solutions. It is based on the Visual Studio development environment but has unique extensions and project types for the database server.
Another tool that comes with SQL Server is SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS), a graphical user interface (GUI) tool for configuring, managing, and administering any SQL infrastructure. SSMS provides an intuitive interface for working with SQL Server database servers and includes a range of script editors and graphical tools for working with objects on the server.
Visual Studio also offers native support for data programming, allowing users to write code executed by a database. It includes a data designer that can be used to create, view, or edit database schemas graphically, and users can create queries using code or visually. These tools enable efficient database management and development.
SQL Server Analysis Services (SSAS) adds Online Analytical Processing (OLAP) and data mining capabilities to SQL Server. SSAS supports three types of storage: MOLAP, ROLAP, and HOLAP, and it uses XML for Analysis (XMLA) as the underlying communication protocol. The Data Mining API, DMX, enables data mining-specific functionality and includes decision trees, clustering algorithms, naive Bayes, time-series, sequence clustering, linear and logistic regression, and neural networks.
SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS) is a web-based report generation environment for data gathered from SQL Server databases. It offers a web services interface to support the development of custom reporting applications and comes free with SQL Server.
SQL Server also includes the Machine Learning Services technology, which is a powerful platform for machine learning and data analysis. It enables users to conduct data science and machine learning without moving data around, and it allows for the storage of machine learning models to be scored against future data. A trained machine-learning model can be stored inside a database and used for scoring, making it a useful tool for data analysis and prediction.
Full-Text Search Service enables word-based searches over any column with character-based text data. It can also perform queries using the SQL LIKE operator, and it provides more efficient queries than those with the LIKE operator by using the Full-Text Indexing Service.
Another useful tool is SQLCMD, a command-line utility for querying and managing data in SQL Server. SQLCMD allows users to query SQL Server databases and execute SQL statements against them. It also provides a scripting interface to write scripts to create or maintain databases, making it a powerful tool for database management and automation.
SQL Server allows for the concurrent running of multiple services, each with its own logins, ports, databases, and more. There are two types of instances: Primary instances and Named instances, and you can run up to 50 instances simultaneously on a SQL Server 2005 and later. Multiple instances can be set up on the server, but only one instance can be the default. Each SQL Server instance has its own server files, databases, and security credentials, providing separate environments for different applications or users.
Benefits of Utilizing SQL Server Instances
Using SQL Server instances offers several advantages that make it a preferred choice for database management and development. These benefits include the ability to install different versions of SQL Server on a single machine and configure each instance individually, reducing the costs of operating the server by only licensing the required services for each instance.
Having different SQL Server instances on a single machine also allows for maintaining separate production, development, and testing environments, reducing temporary database problems by running services on different instances, and providing separate security privileges for each instance. Additionally, a standby server can be maintained to ensure continuity of service in case of a database instance failure.
SQL Server is an excellent choice for Windows-based systems, and its ecosystem is optimized for large infrastructures. Although it is more expensive than open-source alternatives, it offers access to regularly updated official ecosystems, extensive expert communities, and outstanding customer support, making it a valuable investment for many organizations.
Microsoft SQL Server is a highly regarded data management platform that offers scalability, flexibility, and high performance. It provides a comprehensive set of tools for building reliable, secure, and scalable applications. There are several database software solutions available for SQL Server, and among the best are the tools provided by Devart company.
One of Devart’s primary offerings is dbForge Studio for SQL Server, which is an all-in-one integrated development environment (IDE) for various database-related tasks. Additionally, the dbForge SQL Tools is a pack of advanced standalone database tools and add-ins. Both these products come with a fully functional 30-day trial, allowing users to evaluate all the cutting-edge features they offer. Users can try both and choose the one that best suits their needs and preferences. Overall, Devart’s database software solutions provide powerful and efficient tools for SQL Server database management and development.
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