SQL Server from a mid-level DBA perspective
February 23, 2016
SQL Server from a mid-level DBA perspective
Score 10 out of 10
Overall Satisfaction with Microsoft SQL Server
SQL Server is used throughout the organization in differing capacities. Research and Development uses it to develop new software and to fix previously coded bugs or issues. Our software communicates with a SQL server database that has almost 1000 tables with varying relationships and data amount. Support uses SQL to log customer/client issues and to see what clients have downloaded what products and who the contacts are that are viewing our released software from the Salesforce website which communicates with a local SQL database we have on site. Our Professional services team will configure databases in SQL server at client sites to help set up a new client or to solve issues that the client is encountering.
- Handle large amounts of data. SQL can process thousands of rows of data in a pinch when given the correct hardware to utilize. SQL likes memory and it will utilize it very efficiently when given the chance.
- SQL provides at least 2 methods to do everything. You can write simple SQL query scripts or you can use the built-in GUI (which coincidentally just runs SQL scripts behind the scenes).
- Allows for jobs to be setup that can do simple tasks such as database backups, database restores, export and import data and even send out notifications when SQL Server encounters a problem.
- Integrates with a lot of other programs and software. Microsoft allows SQL Server to integrate with Visual Studio and you can utilize SQL tools with SSIS, SSMS, SSAS, and SSRS to get deep into integration tools, Analyzing data, and reporting on various data in each database. You can also integrate with third party tools such as the suite of products from RedGate.
- Speed up installation times. A manual installation of SQL server can take up a good chunk of time. You can be forced to go through an installation wizard screen by screen and it can take a lot of time waiting for each screen to load.
- Allow for easier integration with GUI's. SQL has the capability to use a visual query builder where you can drag and drop fields, tables, etc to build a query but it is not as user friendly as you would imagine.
- Make the permissions more stream lined. Users can have permissions to a SQL Server but not a particular database and trying to find the right spot to add the correct permissions can be painful for someone who is new to SQL Admin work.
- Allowed my company to expand the services we offer and the speed at which our software runs due to the efficiency that SQL has.
- Negatively, it is hard to find SQL experts or seasoned veterans who can handle the data load and enterprise level functionality we have implemented.
I have used Microsoft Access, MySQL, and I have been a user of systems that run on Oracle database servers. All but Oracle are really intended for smaller scale projects and teams as they start to get slow or the performance will suffer once you start getting lots of data input and output into them. They are good for single user or single entry applications that can be maintained by almost anyone who understands databases. Oracle is a real competitor for SQL Server as it can handle large and small scale applications and data loads. It is competitively priced to SQL Server but I have heard it can be a bit tricky to work through in the back end. Since I only used applications that had Oracle databases on the back end I can only attest to the fact that the front end applications always worked just fine.
The larger the database and project the more efficient it will be if kept running smoothly. Small projects/businesses will find SQL Server useful also but for the cost of licenses it may not be as cost effective as some would like. Also if your business depends on the data in the database or server you will want a full time DBA to watch over the Server (both the hardware and software of the server) to insure you don't have any data integrity or security issues.
Using Microsoft SQL Server
150 - Research and Development, Support, Professional Services, Sales, Marketing. Each department utilizes SQL for different reasons but they all boil down to it is what our software runs on and it has been developed to integrate seamlessly with SQL Server and to run as efficiently as possible. We our a Microsoft gold partner and pride ourselves on utilizing Microsoft products to the fullest extent.
3 - Our Tallahassee office currently has 3 people to service/support our SQL servers. We have a senior SQL DBA who has been with us for over 20 years, we have a mid level DBA who also is responsible for other Microsoft products such as Team Foundation Server and Hyper-V and we have a systems Administrator who is responsible for the hardware and any issues that arise with such.
- Development of new technology is the main focus of our company.
- Troubleshooting and debugging previously released code and databases.
- Configuring new servers and maintaining current SQL servers either individually or as a cluster.
- We have utilized SQL to have a client that has 2 offices on opposite sides of the planet utilize one central SQL database at the same time with no issues or hesitations.
- We can utilize the integration Microsoft allows to utilize tools outside of SQL to making reporting, error reporting, troubleshooting and data integrity easier, and more effective.
- We could utilize the new technologies being released in the new versions of SQL to allow us to process data faster and more efficiently in order to have faster processing times in our applications.
We are a Microsoft Gold partner and are very in depth with our SQL server development with out software and it would take too many resources to try and switch to another database product, not to mention all of our clients run SQL Server so we would then have to support SQL and another product which is fiscally irresponsible.
Evaluating Microsoft SQL Server and Competitors
- Product Features
- Product Usability
- Product Reputation
- Existing Relationship with the Vendor
We are and have been a Microsoft Gold partner and thus utilize most of Microsoft's products. Since we have that established relationship it made sense to continue with other products as Microsoft is known for the product integration which allows extras features and tools to be used which can then be passed down to our clients in the form of special features and benefits.
The evaluation and selection process wouldn't change. SQL did everything we did and it gave us room to grow. Training was provided and support is always accessible. Being an industry leader SQL Server is easy to maintain and troubleshoot. Finding certified and qualified individuals to service SQL is very easy as it is taught by most schools and training centers.
Microsoft SQL Server Implementation
Other than SQL taking quite a bit of time to actually install there are no problems with installation. Even on hardware that has good performance SQL can still take close to an hour to install a typical server with management and reporting services.
Change management was a small part of the implementation and was well-handled - We have been using SQL Server since it's inception and thus change management was almost non-existent. We did have some applications running on other database software previously but with Microsoft putting a big emphasis on product integration and consistency it was easy to change over to SQL server. Each version has kept the base navigation and has just introduced new features allowing for a more robust experience.
Microsoft SQL Server Support
Nothing is perfect but Microsoft does fairly well even though they're such a large corporation. SQL server has a large user base and there are a lot of support tools you can find without even calling Microsoft. The internet has a plethora of knowledge and help and Microsoft has also done a great job of making articles on their MSDN website that explain and layout a lot of different things with SQL. With that comes the fact that you still have to go to the internet or on the phone to get help sometimes.
Problems get solved
Kept well informed
No escalation required
Immediate help available
Support understands my problem
Quick Initial Response
I've never personally had to call Microsoft for SQL Server support. I have heard from coworkers that it has been fairly easy to get through to Microsoft Support and that their questions were answered. They were kept up to date on their cases and in all cases a resolution was provided or was at least documented with a reasonable work around solution.
Using Microsoft SQL Server
I give it an 8 because it can be hard to start using without knowing some sort of SQL already. Having an understanding of relational databases and SQL queries would be a huge bonus for someone just starting out. But other than that it is great and there are always multiple methods to get to a result. Some people use a GUI and some just write SQL code to accomplish the same feat.
Like to use
Easy to use
Technical support not required
Feel confident using
- Writing and executing SQL queries is fairly simple. Just open up SQL Management studio and you can find a table you want and select rows from it using the drop down GUI when right clicking it or you can write SQL scripts into the query editor.
- Connecting to new database servers is as easy as typing the name (assuming you have permissions to connect to said server).
- Installation is easy but time consuming. Following the installation wizard allows you to get SQL installed and running in no time.
- Understanding the errors one might receive when you have incorrect permissions on a server or database.
- Setting up permissions can be difficult to grasp since there are permission levels for each server and database.