Microsoft SQL Server serves as a robust RDBMS specifically designed for organizations, empowering them with seamless data storage and efficient management. Microsoft SQL Server additionally offers a versatile query language called Transact-SQL (T-SQL), which allows for seamless data manipulation and retrieval, as well as a comprehensive suite of tools, such as SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS), making it a well rounded choice for any organization.

What is SQL Server?

Microsoft SQL (Structured Query Language) Server is a relational database management system developed by Microsoft over 30 years ago. SQL Server is one of the most widely used database management systems in the world and is considered one of the best for managing large and complex data sets.

SQL Server has been specifically designed to handle a variety of data types, including structured, semi-structured, and unstructured data, making it an ideal platform for big data analytics and business intelligence. The server has advanced security features, including encryption and access controls, helping keep data safe from unauthorized access.

Used by a wide range of organizations, from small businesses to large corporations, to store and manage large amounts of data for various applications, SQL Server is particularly popular in the financial, healthcare, and retail industries, where managing large amounts of data is critical to the success of the business.

How does Microsoft SQL Server work?

Microsoft SQL Server is a Relational Database Management System (RDBMS) developed by Microsoft to store and retrieve data requested by other software applications. The software is built on the Transact-SQL language, a Microsoft implementation of the Structured Query Language (SQL), which is used to manage and manipulate data stored in tables. The SQL Server software is available in various editions with different feature sets, including Enterprise, Standard, and Express.

Inner workings of Microsoft SQL Server

SQL Server uses a client-server architecture, where the server is responsible for managing the database and the clients connect to the server to access the data. The server communicates with the clients using the Tabular Data Stream (TDS) protocol, which allows for efficient data transmission over networks.

Various components work together to manage and store data in SQL Server. These components include the Database Engine, which provides the core database management functionality, Analysis Services, which provides data analysis and reporting capabilities, Integration Services, which provides data integration and ETL (extract, transform, load) functionality, and Reporting Services, which provides a platform for creating, managing, and delivering reports.

Microsoft SQL Server is made up of a database engine, relational engine and storage engine. These are responsible for:

  • Database engine – The database engine allows the user to manipulate collections of data. It is also used to create objects such as procedures, views and triggers.

  • Relational engine – The relational engine manages the connections between different databases, or the connections between different datasets in the same database. It is responsible for managing the user query processing, memory, buffer management and threads.

  • Storage engine – The storage engine is responsible for storing data. This is done through the use of Storage Area Networks (SAN) or disks.

SQL Server also supports the use of stored procedures, which are precompiled SQL statements that can be stored and executed on the server, and triggers, which are special types of stored procedures that are executed automatically in response to certain events, such as data updates. Additionally, SQL Server includes features for managing security, backup and recovery, and high availability, among others.

Exploring the Different Editions of Microsoft SQL Server

SQL Server offers multiple editions with different features, catering to the unique requirements of individuals and organizations. Organizations are able to choose from editions ranging from offerings of a comprehensive list of features and customization to more budget friendly editions with fewer offerings.

A brief breakdown

Enterprise edition

The Enterprise edition provides comprehensive high-end data center capabilities, including unlimited virtualization, high service levels for mission-critical workloads, and end-user access to data insights. It delivers blazing-fast performance and end-to-end business intelligence, making it ideal for large organizations.

Standard edition

The Standard edition provides basic data management and business intelligence for departments and small organizations to run their applications. It supports common development tools for on-premises and cloud, enabling effective database management with minimal IT resources.

Web edition

The Web edition is a low-cost option for Web hosters and Web VARs (Value Added Resellers) to provide scalability, affordability, and manageability capabilities for small to large-scale Web properties.

Developer edition

The Developer edition includes all the functionality of Enterprise edition and is licensed for use as a development and test system, not as a production server. It’s an ideal choice for developers who build and test applications.

Express edition

The Express edition is an entry-level, free database that is perfect for learning and building desktop and small server data-driven applications, making it the best choice for independent software vendors, developers, and hobbyists building client applications.

“Features like Query Store hints and the next generation of intelligent Query processing are awesome. The possibility of improving and maintaining great performance over time without code changes is getting better on every new SQL Server version.”

– Javier Villegas
IT Director for DBA and BI Service, Mediterranean Shipping Company

Why Microsoft SQL Server is a popular choice for businesses

Microsoft SQL Server offers a range of benefits for businesses, including high performance, scalability, security, and compatibility with other Microsoft products among countless others. Some of the most stand out advantages include:

A summary of the benefits of Microsoft SQL Server

  • Increased security: Security is a major benefit of Microsoft SQL server as the database has experienced less security vulnerabilities than competitors for several years.

  • Performance: With multiple updates throughout the years, performance has always been key when developing this database. Additionally, with encryption built in, development of security functions is smoother.

  • Extensive documentation from Microsoft: As the database has been built from the ground up, over many years, by Microsoft, there is a vast amount of comprehensive documentation available to help developers come to terms with the database.

“Microsoft SQL Server offers high performance, scalability, security.”

Maintained and updated by Microsoft:

There have been many updates to Microsoft SQL Servers since their release, each of these adding new functions to the database. These updates are devised by the Microsoft development team, to ensure they are stable and secure and compatible with applications which already use Microsoft SQL Server.

Online community support:

In addition to the support and documentation provided by Microsoft, community support can be vital for development teams. With 30 years industry experience, Microsoft SQL Server has a vast community to support developers and organizations.

Cloud support:

SQL Server can be used in the cloud, making it easy for organizations to access their data from anywhere and scale their database as needed. Organizations that use Microsoft Azure further benefit from the cloud support of the Azure SQL Databases.

“With 30 years industry experience, Microsoft SQL Server has a vast community to support developers and organizations.”

  • Security: Microsoft SQL Server has robust security features to protect sensitive data, including encryption and access control. These security procedures have been devised by Microsoft and benefit from the industry leaders vast experience.

  • Long Term Support: Microsoft boasts a long support lifecycle for older editions of Microsoft SQL, with official support for the 2012 version lasting a decade, only coming to an end in 2022.

  • Integration with other Microsoft products: SQL Server integrates seamlessly with other Microsoft products, such as Excel, SharePoint, and Visual Studio.

  • Simple to install: Microsoft has introduced an installation wizard to streamline the overall installation process. This can be obtained from the Microsoft website.

“With the arrival of Synapse Link for SQL Server 2022, we can finally achieve near real-time analytics over our most important operational data, all without the need to build and manage complex packages and pipelines.”

– Nic Hopper
Data Architect, Atrium

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A detailed look at the downsides of using Microsoft SQL Server.

Microsoft SQL Server is a powerful database management system that offers many advantages to its users. However, it also has some disadvantages that are worth considering. Here are some of the potential downsides of using Microsoft SQL Server:

High resource demand

Servers which run Microsoft SQL require higher levels of processing power, compared to other database engines, to achieve similar levels of performance.


Despite Microsoft SQL Server offering many features and capabilities, it can be quite complex to set up and maintain. This can be challenging for organizations without dedicated IT staff.


While Microsoft SQL Server is generally quite scalable, it may not be the best option for organizations with extremely large datasets or those with particularly demanding performance requirements.


Although Microsoft SQL Server is widely used, supported and compatible with multiple Microsoft applications, it may not be the best choice for organizations that rely heavily on non-Microsoft technologies or have complex integration needs.

Vendor lock-in

Choosing Microsoft SQL Server as a database solution may create a vendor lock-in situation, where it becomes difficult or expensive to switch to another system in the future. This is particularly true with organizations using SSIS or SSRS.


Microsoft SQL Server can be quite expensive, particularly for larger organizations or those with complex data needs. Licensing fees can add up, and the system may require dedicated hardware and infrastructure to run effectively.

Who uses Microsoft SQL Servers?

According to Enlyft, Microsoft SQL Servers are used by over 208,000 companies world wide and contribute approximately 18.5% of the market share. The majority of these are US based companies with annual revenues of 1-10 million USD.

“As a company with 24/7 availability requirements, we are looking forward to embracing all SQL Server 2022 features that can make database failover faster, such as Buffer Pool Parallel Scan, ParallelRedo, and Accelerated Database Recovery (ADR) enhancements.”

– Milos Radivojevic,
Head of MSSQL Database Engineering at Entain

Asked Questions.

There is a free edition of Microsoft SQL Server available to developers to allow them to learn the database and decide whether it is adequate for their needs, however this is only for non-production use and a paid version is required to fully make use of the database.

Microsoft SQL Server is a relational database management system (RDBMS) developed by Microsoft that is used to store and manage large amounts of data. It provides various features such as data storage, retrieval, and manipulation, and supports advanced analytics and reporting.

Microsoft SQL Server differs from other database management systems by its scalability, performance, and integration with other Microsoft products. It also offers various features such as enhanced security, advanced analytics, and integration with cloud services.

There are several editions of Microsoft SQL Server available, including Express, Standard, Enterprise, and Developer. The Express edition is a free version with limited features and capabilities, while the Standard and Enterprise editions offer more advanced features and scalability options. The Developer edition is similar to the Enterprise edition but is intended for non-production use only, such as development and testing.

Microsoft SQL Server requires robust hardware and infrastructure to run effectively, including fast processors, high-capacity RAM, and storage systems. It is recommended to use Microsoft-certified hardware for optimal performance.

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