'Tis the season to be thankful for the important things in life… like your enterprise relational database platform! Celebrating my seventh Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday at Sparkhound, here’s the top seven items I’m most thankful for in Microsoft SQL Server.
- The SQL Server User Community is remarkable. Very few other technical communities share the global fellowship and technology activism of SQL Server. Led by the Professional Association for SQL Server (PASS), there are active, enthusiastic monthly SQL Server User Groups and annual SQL Saturday events in all Sparkhound markets currently. These organizations help develop the skillset base in each region, making the Microsoft SQL Server database platform more viable in terms of staffing expert, local resources. More info: http://www.sqlpass.org and http://www.sqlsaturday.com
- SQL Server provides backup compression that typically shrinks database backups by 60%-80%. No longer do you need to buy expensive third-party software to reduce your storage cost. Backup compression starting with SQL 2008 R2 is also a feature of the Standard edition, a rare instance of Microsoft moving an Enterprise-level feature down to the much cheaper Standard edition license. Backup compression can reduce the size of full, differential and transaction log backups significantly. More Info: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/bb964719.aspx
- SQL Server enterprise-quality backups and point-in-time restores are out-of-the-box. Full, differential and transaction log backups can be executed reliably on schedule with built-in Maintenance Plan and/or SQL Agent automation functionality, even in Standard Edition. (Note this automation isn’t available in the free Express edition.) Point in time data restoration and restoring through full backups; all this is out-of-the-box functionality. Standard edition of SQL Server on up includes everything you need to schedule backups, maintenance and optimizations for your SQL Server, as well as wizard-driven restores. And now we have the ability to backup to Azure storage integrated into SQL Server. More Info: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dn435916.aspx
- Enterprise Edition comes with features to satisfy government/military auditing requirements, so there is no industry it cannot serve. SQL Server Audit is part of the functionality that makes SQL Server fully compliant with Common Criteria Evaluation Assurance Level 4+, the regulatory security standard that has superseded C2. Further, the Transparent Data Encryption (TDE) feature that helps highly regulated environments (miltiary, government, healthcare) ensure that SQL Server files are encrypted and are unusable removed from the server. More info: http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/server-cloud/products/sql-server/deploy.aspx
- SQL Server Reporting Services can handle your corporate reporting requirements with a high level of security and automation. Included in the SQL Server license, SSRS is a fantastic tool for automating the scheduled email distribution of personalized reporting, web-based customizable reports, straight-to-Excel and PDF reports, and data-driven report subscriptions. The rich functionality of SSRS’s web-based reports works without additional configuration on most web browsing devices, including iPads, even with the Standard edition license. More info: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dn151146(v=sql.110).aspx
- SQL Server Integration Services is an industry standard Extract, Transform and Load (ETL) tool. We’ve been to client sites where they have non-SQL database platforms and business intelligence tools, but still choose to use the SSIS because of the wide developer skillset base, powerful parallel processing capability, integration with any source control in Visual Studio, graphically-driven design and – especially with SQL 2012 – remarkably easy deployment. (No more XML configuration files!) Open source tools like BISM augment the SSIS development lifecycle. More info: https://social.msdn.microsoft.com/Forums/sqlserver/en-US/5c2c4f6a-735d-4501-9681-5c0084812075/the-general-state-of-ssis-as-an-industry-standard?forum=sqlintegrationservices
- Windows Azure infrastructure makes sandboxing large SQL environments easy. Combine the free Azure money that corporate MSDN subscriptions provide and the powerful Azure templates, we can spin up entire SQL 2014 Availability Group clusters in minutes, with a few clicks of a button. Never has it been easier for an enterprise DBA to simulate and learn about complex environments. More info: http://www.sparkhound.com/pages/blogpost.aspx?f=114&bt=Cloud;%20Infrastructure;%20SQL%20Server;%20Windows%20Azure&aid=21
If you have any questions about this list, my Sparkhound colleagues and I would be happy to talk chat all about SQL Server. Contact us now!