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SQL Server OverviewUNIXBusinessApplication

SQL Server is #1 ranked solution in top Relational Databases. IT Central Station users give SQL Server an average rating of 8 out of 10. SQL Server is most commonly compared to SAP HANA:SQL Server vs SAP HANA. SQL Server is popular among the large enterprise segment, accounting for 74% of users researching this solution on IT Central Station. The top industry researching this solution are professionals from a computer software company, accounting for 25% of all views.
What is SQL Server?

SQL Server is the Microsoft-driven relational database management system. This system is used to store data as well as retrieve it when necessary; these functions can be supported by individual users or by multiple users within a larger network. The Microsoft SQL Server has warehousing options, quality and integration services, management tools that are simple to implement, as well as robust tools for development.

Looking at the more technical end of things, Microsoft SQL Server uses query languages such as T-SQL and ANSI SQL. Disaster recovery is one of the product's most prominent features, in addition to in-memory performance, scalability, and corporate business intelligence capabilities.

SQL Server was previously known as Microsoft SQL Server, MSSQL, MS SQL.

SQL Server Buyer's Guide

Download the SQL Server Buyer's Guide including reviews and more. Updated: November 2021

SQL Server Customers

Microsoft SQL Server is used by businesses in every industry, including Great Western Bank, Aviva, the Volvo Car Corporation, BMW, Samsung, Principality Building Society, Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield, and the Catholic District School Board of Eastern Ontario.

SQL Server Video

Pricing Advice

What users are saying about SQL Server pricing:
  • "Cost is a major derivative for any organization. It has a reasonable cost value, and its cloud support is also better than others. Comparatively, Oracle can do the same things or is even better in certain areas, but it is expensive. The cost along with the support are the plus factors for SQL Server."
  • "Their options for concurrency and locking are good, as well as their prices."

SQL Server Reviews

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RN
President at a consultancy with 1-10 employees
Real User
Veteran solution with critical log shipping feature

Pros and Cons

  • "One of the things I most like about SQL Server is the log shipping piece. This is a great feature."
  • "In the next releases, I would only like more enhanced backups and more restore points."

What is our primary use case?

This client, specifically, is using it for Dynamics NAV. I don't know what they're calling it today. Microsoft changes the names all the time, 365 NAV Dynamics. This is ridiculous. We're using it for that, and we have more of a niche CRM database called Tour de Force. It's owned by a company called White Cup. They own a bunch of companies, and it sits on Microsoft SQL, as well.

What is most valuable?

One of the things I most like about SQL Server is the log shipping piece.

I have another client who uses GP, and they use Power BI to take the data out of the back end. I'm doing an IT assessment there, so I'm not really involved in that specifically, other than the fact this person has too many rights.

I have an auditing background, and I spent 25 years doing IT auditing as well. I understand I'm not a programmer, but I've been involved with enough of them. The log shipping really is one of the greatest features. It is not the only database you can do it in, but that was one of the better features of it because I am a backup nut. We use Veeam Backup and Replication to a local mass storage, but then we fully replicate everything in Veeam to another site with the exact same server set up at our other location. But I wasn't satisfied with that from a disaster recovery point of view. My IT company was, but I was not. I said, "I want to do SQL log shipping. I want to do an SQL backup and SQL log shipping and move it to Azure in the cloud," which is what we do every day. We have an hour by hour backup, in addition to our multiple nightly backups and our replication to our other site, and we've had to use it and it worked. This is a great feature.

What needs improvement?

Somebody who knows it would easily say, "No problem," because we set up our log shipping in about three hours. We sometimes have challenges with it in terms of timing, of getting it out, backing it up, and sending it to the cloud. There are always the glitches, but I get a daily report on what's going on. Around 30 backup jobs are running at all times, because it is a big company. It's a 200 person company.

In the next releases, I would only like more enhanced backups and more restore points. Data backup and cyber protection are the number one things everybody should be thinking about now. They may not be, but they should be. We're going to go to the Azure environment because that really is a duplicate of the on-premise environment, just somewhere else.

For how long have I used the solution?

I would say that I have been directly involved in the ERP world for as long as I can remember, but SQL really didn't appear on my radar until the mid-90s. I know that early GP was out there. I believe it was on an earlier version of SQL. I use it heavily now because I'm the CIO. I'm a consultant, but I'm a CIO of a client for almost nine years, where we have two major databases sitting on SQL.

So I have always been involved in a Microsoft environment.

We are always deploying the latest version. I have multiple clients with SQL and Oracle. But my big client is always up to date.

Whether it is deployed on the cloud or on premises depends on the client. My big client is on-premise and we have a two year plan to move to the cloud.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

In terms of scalability, I haven't seen any problems with it. We have 120 users. Every once in a while we get a record lock in our data. It's very rare though. Once every six months somebody hits the same record and same night. It's very rare. You go out for a minute, come back in, and it's over.

I don't have any Fortune 5,000, Fortune 2000, or Fortune 1000 companies. According to the governmental definition, they're small, they're SMB, but my big client is 200 million. To me, that's a lot of money-

But in the eyes of the government, they're still a medium company. I have clients with 1,000 people, but they're only a $50 million company. Those are not for profits. They're paying people 10 bucks an hour. It's very hard to categorize that if you're looking at it from a business perspective versus a technical perspective. I have a client with 1,000 people with 82 sites. So that's a technical challenge, but they don't have the same kind of money as the other people do.

It's a different way to categorize it.

How are customer service and support?

Calling Microsoft is like calling Verizon. I wouldn't do that. I have a middleman that I work with. It's easier because they have more clout than do. I know that.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

This client, the big client I've been talking about, had some ancient DOS system from the 70s when I got there in 2012. They had no data dictionary note. I think it was running on an early version of Unix on a Compaq machine. When I got there, it was 15 years old. The thing was still running until six months ago. You can't believe it. This thing wouldn't die. I tried to make it die multiple times, but we converted from that system onto Dynamics NAV.

It's a two year undertaking. The SQL was stable all the time, never had a problem with it.

How was the initial setup?

In terms of the initial setup, you probably need to know what you're doing. I haven't seen any real laypeople get into the tables. I know it's possible to learn. Things like Power BI have made it easier, but if you don't know what the tables are you have to be a very methodical person to be able to do that stuff. We use a company called ArcherPoint for dynamics. They're one of the largest dynamics dealers in the country, and they have their stuff together. This woman I use there knows her stuff. She knows SQL very well, and my IT company also has a senior guy who they often talk to, and it always seems pretty straightforward, whatever they do. It's never a big install.

Usually a few hours and it's over.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

This client has money, so I never hear any complaints. It seems reasonable to me. I think the biggest problem that Microsoft had back in the early 2000s was that the pricing of SQL was a nightmare. You could call five Microsoft people at Microsoft, and you'd get five different prices. Microsoft has a problem. Well, they have lots of problems. They characterize themselves as perfect.

From 40 years ago, I already knew well in advance of the clients that there is a security hole. I'm looking at Business Central, and somebody who has a global super admin of the tenant can get into the client's accounting system if they have full rights to their 365 email system. That's a big security gap. Their IT company shouldn't be in their financial system. Why would that be? I came up with the idea after talking to five different Microsoft people to just buy another tenant that they don't have access to and they said, "Oh, that works."

What other advice do I have?

SQL Server is a good mainstream application that has been around for quite some time, and I like when things are around for a while. I don't like to be the first kid on the block. I remember when Power BI first came out. I waited a year and a half to use it.

The big thing for NAV was to get reports. We still use it, but we mostly abandoned it. It's really not working as well as I would've liked. And that reads SQL tables. While that was great, you had to trust the person who wrote it, that it would include all the data you needed. There's a big trust. We often found lots of problems with it, so we decided to just program all these reports inside the application. That worked really well. The thing I don't like is, I know a lot of people don't know about the backend security of SQL. They think others cannot get into their system and I tell them they can, they have the SA password. People are shocked. That's a hole that they should plug.

They should plug that and make that more apparent to people. When I did auditing, most clients had SQL based applications, and we'd always say, "Who's got the SA password," and they'd say, "What are you talking about?" Then we would tell them, and there is all this SQL injection stuff that used to happen. I haven't heard of any hacking through the back end in a while. Because you're talking about cybersecurity being so important now, people can hack in and get into the back end, although 99% of cyber is ransomware through email.

The risk is probably still low, but I try to close up all the gaps if I can. Clients don't know about this stuff. They don't even know enough to ask. I find a lot of IT people don't even think about stuff like that.

I'll ask a client if they back up their data and how often. If they talk to their IT guy? If they say, "Once a night," I ask, "Okay, what if it was the middle of the day and you go down? You lose all your data." I ask if they have ever heard of SQL log shipping. They start stuttering because they don't know how to set it up.

It would be great if Microsoft was more up-front about how to do that stuff. It's a great feature.

On a scale of one to ten, I would probably give SQL Server a nine. I don't give anybody a perfect score, certainly not in the technology world. Oracle is out there. NetSuite is just giving it away. You have a lot of other applications not running on SQL, like Intacct, who are creating proprietary, non-Microsoft things to come against what Microsoft is offering like interoperability with different applications. They are really pushing a different environment. I think Microsoft is going to win, but Sage is not a small company.

We have all these big titans fighting each other.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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HarkamalSingh
User at a manufacturing company with 10,001+ employees
Real User
Top 5Leaderboard
A stable, scalable, and easy-to-deploy solution that pretty much covers everything

Pros and Cons

  • "It is a pretty good solution. The on-premise version 2019 has many features, and they had introduced a really good and stable environment in version 2019. It has very good integration with big data clusters and other things. It covers pretty much everything that you can do with a SQL server. You can use any language to connect to it, which is not there in other solutions. They have also introduced Python, and it also has ArcScale. PaaS is a modern, scalable database. You can use Power Automate and a lot of features in this. It is very easy, and you don't have to worry about versions and upgrades. Microsoft keeps on adding new features to this solution. Microsoft is improving its connectivity on an ongoing basis. It connects well with Office 365. If you see something not working, in a couple of weeks, it is going to work because there is a team working on it. You can vote for the things that are missing, and Microsoft can work on them depending on the product that they're launching."
  • "There are a lot of improvements in the cloud space about which we open a case with Microsoft every now and then. These improvements are not in terms of features or functionality. They are more related to their own compatibility or connectivity on which they keep on working to improve the product."

What is our primary use case?

The .NET applications use SQL Servers on a very large scale. Basically, about 80% or 90% of the database platform is on SQL Server.

We are working on version 2019, but we are also now working on the cloud databases. Our goal is to stay away from versions. We are going to go version-less and move to Azure SQL or managed instance, which is version-less. This way we won't need to worry about any upgrades or any version changes because Microsoft is going to take care of these things. We will always have the latest and greatest version.

What is most valuable?

It is a pretty good solution. The on-premise version 2019 has many features, and they had introduced a really good and stable environment in version 2019. It has very good integration with big data clusters and other things. It covers pretty much everything that you can do with a SQL server. You can use any language to connect to it, which is not there in other solutions. They have also introduced Python, and it also has ArcScale.

PaaS is a modern, scalable database. You can use Power Automate and a lot of features in this. It is very easy, and you don't have to worry about versions and upgrades.

Microsoft keeps on adding new features to this solution. Microsoft is improving its connectivity on an ongoing basis. It connects well with Office 365. If you see something not working, in a couple of weeks, it is going to work because there is a team working on it. You can vote for the things that are missing, and Microsoft can work on them depending on the product that they're launching. 

What needs improvement?

There are a lot of improvements in the cloud space about which we open a case with Microsoft every now and then. These improvements are not in terms of features or functionality. They are more related to their own compatibility or connectivity on which they keep on working to improve the product.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using this solution for 13 to 14 years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

In version 2019, they introduced a really good and stable environment. Bugs are there, but bug fixes are provided by Microsoft. We have premium support with Microsoft. If we find a bug, they work on it and provide a solution.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

It is very scalable, but its scalability also depends on what you're using. If it is on-premise, you have to do everything on your own to scale it out. It is easy, but you have to get the infrastructure ready to scale it out. It is a manual process. If you're on a cloud, then it is pretty much easy and straightforward if your cloud has those availabilities. It also has a Hyperscale, where you can put the upper and lower limit, and it can scale up and down as per the use case and the compute that you need.

We have a lot of users. Everyone is connected to this. We have business users, technical users, application users, and integration users. We have 17,000 instances of SQL Server here with a lot of databases. 

How are customer service and technical support?

We use Microsoft's Premium Support. They're good. I would rate them an eight out of ten. For on-premise, you design your infrastructure. When you change something or customize a few things, it is hard to get support because the issue can be from either side. When you have a critical issue, which is not straightforward, you have to go between two different vendors, and they start finger-pointing to each other. They say that the issue is not at their end, and there is nothing wrong with their configuration. The issue is because of storage or network. These are the few things for which you have to fight for support. I don't know how they will improve this. It only happens sometimes for an on-premise solution. We don't run into those issues on the cloud because it is their own setup.

A cloud solution is pretty much on their site. They are managing the infrastructure, so they have to provide the solution, and they are good at it, but when you have on-premise, you decide what storage to use. Sometimes, you ignore Microsoft's recommendation, and you don't want to use what they are suggesting. When we run into issues on the DB side or the application side, they can point out to different vendors or causes for issues. 

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

We also have Oracle, Db2, and MongoDB databases here. We also have some NoSQL apps, but comparatively, SQL Server has a bigger footprint, and it is better than the others. 

Other systems are more complex to configure. When you configure a cluster on the SQL itself, it is easy to configure because you've got more resources, whereas, when you have to configure Oracle or Db2, you have to have a SPEC process because they have to configure that on Red Hat Linux or Unix side. A few companies don't have special admins for Linux because the footprint is not that big. You might have two or three applications running on that system. When you run into a problem, you need to hire someone who can implement it for you, whereas most of the companies, almost 80%, are Microsoft shops. They already have the talent and resources available. You also have offline help and support. You have a lot of blogs or online help available when it comes to Microsoft, but when you go to other solutions like Oracle, sometimes it is a challenge. You really need the right person there, and not everyone will be able to do it. 

The capability of a solution also depends on your needs and configuration. If you configure things wrong, any system will fail. When I'm testing something, I always believe in the functionality because Microsoft and Oracle test their products thoroughly. I never question their functionality, but we also check it according to our plan. You have to customize things based on your needs. If you're not getting the results, you have to consult the tech support and bring them in to configure it. These are the things that you run into when you are in your own data center. If you are not getting the throughput from the storage itself, you need to get the storage admin or storage vendor in there. When you move to the cloud, everything is taken care of.

How was the initial setup?

It is straightforward. There is no complexity. It is all automated, and we do un-attended install. We are not sitting and doing it. We just include it with the server build itself. When the server is built, we provide them the un-attended scripts to run, and everything is configured. They can use the media provided by Microsoft. Everything is done in one step. We just need to do auditing. We need to check at the right place, and we just keep checking it.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

Cost is a major derivative for any organization. It has a reasonable cost value, and its cloud support is also better than others. Comparatively, Oracle can do the same things or is even better in certain areas, but it is expensive. The cost along with the support are the plus factors for SQL Server.

What other advice do I have?

You need to know the concepts and the business logic before using this solution. It is not straightforward. You need to know what your application needs are and only then you can work on it. You also need to know about the product and how it works.

I would probably advise others to move to the cloud version, which is a modern database. If you want to use SQL Server, Azure is the best because you get the hybrid benefits. You can bring your own license, and you can save costs. You can save 55% of the cost. With AWS, you have to buy your license, which makes it expensive. If you are using SQL Server and your company is more on the Microsoft side, Azure is easier, and there is no change in it. You can also get more out of it. You don't have to put a lot of complexity in supporting or administrating it because Microsoft does that for you behind the scenes. Therefore, it is good to move to Azure SQL or to manage instances where you have more control. Both of these are PaaS solutions. There is no need to go into IES. It is better to stay on-premise than on IES because it creates more complexity. This is because you still have to build the servers, and you have to still manage them. If your application is compatible to be used with PostgreSQL or MySQL, you can also move there.

It also depends on the kind of talent you have in your company. You have to consider the talent that you have. You can choose other technologies, but you need support from your teams. If they're .NET developers and you have to build the knowledge base, it is smoother to stay with SQL Server because you have to change less on the coding side.

I would rate SQL Server a ten out of ten.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

Public Cloud

If public cloud, private cloud, or hybrid cloud, which cloud provider do you use?

Microsoft Azure
Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner
Learn what your peers think about SQL Server. Get advice and tips from experienced pros sharing their opinions. Updated: November 2021.
554,676 professionals have used our research since 2012.
ITCS user
Information Technology Software Developer at a financial services firm with 501-1,000 employees
Real User
Top 5Leaderboard
Easy to use, can be used for free, and has great scalability

Pros and Cons

  • "It's a good learning environment, it's easy enough to learn and understand. Anybody that picks up the language early on will be able to develop in it."
  • "From a development perspective, the solution needs to be a lot easier to understand or it needs to be easier to implement API packages for connection pooling so we don't have connection interruptions when, let's say, a hundred people simultaneously access the network on a given system, utilizing a specific or single database."

What is our primary use case?

We have a few use cases. They range from temporary storage to long-term storage to backup systems. We're using the full versatile suite for the product currently. It's not just a stand-alone system.

How has it helped my organization?

I don't have access to that level of knowledge. We just basically work with it on a small scale capacity in our department. That type of information and statistics are held by our IT administrators.

What is most valuable?

The solution is very easy to use for me. SQL is the most user-friendly system for databasing aside from Postgres. 

Due to the financial costs of Postgres, the SQL system is a good alternative as the product can be utilized free of charge. 

It's a good learning environment, it's easy enough to learn and understand. Anybody that picks up the language early on will be able to develop in it.

What needs improvement?

With any development language, any programming or software language available, there's always room for improvement. 

With SQL, it requires the more advanced integrated capabilities of Postgres, however, those capabilities do really come with obvious kinds of costs. For example, if SQL were to improve its functionality to incorporate the functionality that is in Postgres. Obviously, some kind of financial licensing will need to be incorporated. It's a bit of a catch-22 with a system similar to an SQL Server. If we want to avoid costs, we have to take a step back from certain integration capabilities.

From a development perspective, the solution needs to be a lot easier to understand or it needs to be easier to implement API packages for connection pooling so we don't have connection interruptions when, let's say, a hundred people simultaneously access the network on a given system, utilizing a specific or single database. Any type of connection pool or connection integration that could increase the total number of users to access simultaneously would be beneficial. That said, I also know there are some security risks involved with that type of connection pooling. However, something from SQL-side that can increase its connection access or its connection stability for multiple user access to a single database system would be great.

For how long have I used the solution?

I've been using the solution for the past six months or so.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The solution is extremely stable. It's got an amazing backup repository system, a fail-safe system for if any type of data should it be lost. It's got a backup system that stores everything on a day-to-day basis or an hourly basis as well. Depending on the backup and storage drive that you're using or the capacity of the server it is installed on or the local machine, you can pretty much back up any type of critical data, any recent data, or any archive-based data relatively fast. You can also pull that data again, based on the system restore and the server restore is fairly quick.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

The solution is 100% scalable to any kind of circumstances you find yourself in. It's easy to use and ready for any type of environment you're working on. It's scalable to any environment as well as to any amount of data. The only limiting aspect of scalability is if you're working on a local system or working on a server-based system. The physical data storage capacity is the only hindrance to scalability. If you've got sufficient data storage, then the scalability is endless.

The only people, to my knowledge, that have any access to the SQL Servers would be the administration and the department of development. The numbers range from anything from 50 to 150 people at any given time.

I'm not sure if we have plans, as an organization, to increase usage.

How are customer service and technical support?

Any technical support queries we relay to our IT administration team and the IT administration team handle it directly with Microsoft Support. I haven't actually dealt with them directly.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

I have experience with Postgres.

The main functionality that I've encountered within the six months is that Postgres is capable to incorporate itself or integrate itself with any known choosing standard API. With the SQL Server, we've got to use connection strings or connection pooling to do this. The API function is not as robust in SQL Server as it is in Postgres as the Postgres user package is based on APIs. Packages based on other companies or software languages that have the communication protocols are already enabled. With SQL Server, you have to hard code those connection strings or connection poolings for the APIs, which makes it far more difficult to use. However, it is still capable of doing it, it is just a longer approach.

How was the initial setup?

Due to the fact that Postgres is a fully integrated package installation, done from a single installer, with SQL Server you can do an advanced complex installation which requires a lot of IT administration background knowledge. Alternatively, you can do a stand-alone use case installation system, if you're just using it for a backup system. They've got a backup package that you install and that's the standard installation you use. Due to SQL's user-friendly approach, it's got a lot of pre-made installation packages that you can install based on the needs or necessities of the company.

The length of time that SQL Server standard installation takes obviously depends on network speed, and UT package downloads. It could take anywhere from five minutes to half an hour. This is all dependent on the network speed that you're running the server installation on. If you've got a fast enough network speed, it should take no longer than five minutes. With a home-based network speed, say a fiber line with 10 megs, it should take you about 15 to 30 minutes just for a standard installation.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

The solution is very affordable. It can be used free of charge.

There are payment packages for SQL based on dollars for any level of additions. They offer enterprise, express, and production additions that are available as well as community additions and student additions, which are completely free.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

Before anybody had even considered doing any kind of database access, they reviewed all possible capabilities, according to price, functionality, and integration requirements. Ultimately, they settled from the start on SQL Server.

As far as I remember, our administration team did review other options. I'm not familiar with the options that were available prior to this, however, as they stated to me, before SQL has been the one from the go ahead, the option that they chose and they've been running with it since then.

What other advice do I have?

Overall, I would rate the solution at a nine out of ten. We've been quite happy with the solution so far.

Basically with any databasing system, SQL included, a company should be looking at the requirements for why they're looking for any type of databasing system. Is it for backups? Is it for storage? Is it for cross-communication between departments or inter-department communication? Who's going to have the access prior? If it's just going to be on a technical or development level, not a lot of people need to worry about integration requirements except the installation team. Other than that, companies should just look at the financial as well as system requirements that are basically needed for the project or for the company you're in. If a company needs a large scale solution, financially speaking, SQL would be a good solution, however, Postgres would be a far better solution due to its capabilities, integration and API access.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

Public Cloud
Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
Satyam Saxena
Senior Software Developer at a manufacturing company with 5,001-10,000 employees
Real User
Top 5Leaderboard
User-friendly with a lot of tools

Pros and Cons

  • "SQL Server is quite user-friendly. I have experience with Oracle and PostgreSQL, so out of three, I like SQL Server a lot."
  • "It may be a licensing issue, but sometimes its operating speed becomes slow if we have multiple users. It's lacking some performance, but it's acceptable because we have a heavy load."

What is most valuable?

Out of all the tools in the complete SQL Server package, I'm mainly using Toolbox and SQL Profiler because I'm using SSIS packets, so we're using job scheduling a lot. And sometimes we are creating the SSIS packages, so I'm using SQL Server for MSD for maintenance purposes. SQL Server is quite user-friendly. I have experience with Oracle and PostgreSQL, so out of three, I like SQL Server a lot.

What needs improvement?

They could increase the intelligence of SQL Server. That would be good for us.  There are some good intelligent features in SQL Server. However, they need to increase the intelligence because people switching to SQL Server from other solutions are not so familiar with it. I've been working with SQL Server for the last six years, but people are coming from MySQL or Oracle, so it will take one or two months to adjust. Still, they could add some intelligent tools to convert Oracle into SQL Server something like that. 

And sometimes when I'm writing a function, there is already a predefined structure available. So if they defined their structure more precisely, that would be good for us. And the last thing I would like to add is that SQL Server should handle queries more like Oracle does. For example, you submit a query in Oracle, and the whole table comes up. In SQL Server, you go to the table, right-click, and it lets you see the first 200 rows. Then on top of that, you can add 200 more rows.

So in place of those 200 rows, if I can update all my table records or search my table record without a new search query, it'll be very beneficial. That functionality exists in Oracle, but this feature is not available everywhere in SQL Server. So if SQL Server had the feature, it'd be great because SQL Server is lacking only on this point. For example, one of my clients is a semi-technical person, so I have to train them to file a query in SQL. And they say that Oracle is much better. Say, for example, that I wanted to query a particular employee from a list of all staff. So the query output comes, and they can directly filter out the data by just applying the filter. They don't have to use the drop-down menu and search for all the employees with a given name. 

For how long have I used the solution?

I've been using SQL Server for the last six years. I'm working with SSIS, SSRS, or MDS. These tools are part of SQL Server, and the back-end queries are developed in SQL Server. 

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

SQL Server is stable. SQL Server has crashed only two times in six years, but it wasn't a major system error. 

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

It may be a licensing issue, but sometimes its operating speed becomes slow if we have multiple users. It's lacking some performance, but it's acceptable because we have a heavy load. And I would like to add that we're running SQL Server and SSIS at the same time. So while I've found that SQL Server is quite fast, SSIS is a part of SQL Server. It is just for data testing in India. But if a person knows SSIS, then they usually have very little knowledge about SQL and vice versa.

I know both of them. I found that maybe it's a bad habit, but I'm using SSIS packages. And in the SSIS package, I'm using Toolbox from SQL Server to improve the latency. Implementing both together takes a little time. And one more point is data handling. I am just forwarding the error names, and there are multiple errors in the SQL Server tool, but what if a person comes to work under me and has only one or two years of experience?  Sometimes it might be difficult for them to understand what the errors mean. For example, when joining data, it's easy to implement the inner joint. In the inner joint, there are two columns, so when there's an output error, someone who is inexperienced with SQL Server might not understand. Error messages should be a little more precise and defined, so it's easy to understand.

How was the initial setup?

Setting up an individual SQL Server is pretty straightforward, but when you are implementing multiple tools, it's more complicated. In terms of maintenance, for the DBA part, there are two based in my company because I am on a master device, so they don't allow me to maintain the server part. So one person is from South Korea, and the other is from China. They are handling my SQL Server. So maybe there are multiple teams, but I am contacting these two guys, the DBA. And I'm MDS, so I'm a single person. There are two people on my team, and I have one junior staff member. So I have a three-person team, and there are two DBA sites because I'm discussing my master team. I am deployed on the business side, and there are more than 80 people who are end-users of SQL.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

If you're using SQL Server along with SSIS and SSRS tools, it works pretty smoothly and all. When working with Oracle SQL, PostgreSQL, MySQL, etc, there are a few problems with the connection.

Overall, SQL Server is good, but sometimes, optimization becomes a little bit tricky when you're using SQL Servers in place of Oracle. For example, while I was implementing two queries one time, the SQL Server gave me the wrong results. This wasn't because of their internal modules. So there may have been some missing data, but SQL Server failed to identify those issues. SQL Server needs to improve there.

For example, say there is a line with a value of 136 or 137. The second value is a space, and the third value is null. And the last one is space. So a space means this is also null. So you are comparing these four values, and if you don't have any idea about data, it's a little problematic. So cases like this, we can deal with such queries using syntax, but if a person has no idea how to deal with this, they'll face an issue.

Here's another example. Say there's a team query that means we are erasing data from the teams, and some people are just analyzing the string. So I see data from it, which means the calling system is there. In the calling system, we receive the data to call anyone, and that type of wire call setup is there. So I am receiving a full-text format from the file I have to upload in the SSIS package. And some cells have a null value. It's a text file, so you can understand there are blanks in some places. I don't know the file type, so I am just trying to dump it into our SQL Server. But when I have time to get to that table, I realize that some values are null, space, and blank. So these four values make problems for me.

What other advice do I have?

I rate SQL Server nine out of 10. I would recommend SQL Server to anyone because you can use cloud-based services, so it's very beneficial. If you install SQL Server on-premise and on the Azure cloud, it is much more advantageous for you. 

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises
Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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BL
Certified Adjunct Faculty, School of Engineering and Computing at a university with 1,001-5,000 employees
Real User
Top 5Leaderboard
Stable with a straightforward setup and the capability to scale

Pros and Cons

  • "It helps with moving the design of the database into reality."
  • "The product overall would benefit from the addition of better tutorials to help master the skills necessary to actually build a project database. Right now, what is available isn't sufficient."

What is our primary use case?

In my role as faculty, I would use it to facilitate having a database with all the teachers needed that are equivalent to Oracle as a database for a small scale project.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable aspect of the solution is that the metadata is just generalized. Metadata is the way that data is described both for technical aspects of building a database and for the user interfaces. Our metadata is the objects attached to the database, not in the software. 

It helps with moving the design of the database into reality.

What needs improvement?

The server itself doesn't need much improvement. 

The product overall would benefit from the addition of better tutorials to help master the skills necessary to actually build a project database. Right now, what is available isn't sufficient.

Overall, I would suggest a nice tight integration with the toolset now known as Power BI. It might not even be missing, however, I'm planning to concentrate a lot of my time with the tutorials and I have Power BI loaded onto my HP laptop. bA brilliant student did it for me when she demoed it in a class. I'm going to use that copy of it and have many tutorials to get ready. 

For how long have I used the solution?

I have enough experience to support students and grad students who use it as a database backend to accomplish their projects.

I have to qualify my experience with "using" the solution. I have done not very much on my own individually or for a client using SQL Server. I have been supportive in the role of facilitator for students to succeed with it and to be observant of how it is very similar in conceptual important ways to my very deep experience with Oracle as the database backend.

That said, I've been familiar with the solution for about ten years now.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

What I don't know yet is if it would be stable when being migrated from the scale of a project that would be in a prototype on a small machine, into a much larger environment in order to get ready to go to production. I'm not sure of that experience, whether it's vulnerable or not. I haven't tried it.

However, in my experience, so far, the solution is quite stable. In terms of stability, with Microsoft being so supportive of its success, and so many smart professionals who have the skillsets to use it, that it would be stable. I'm confident about that. It's not a new tool, so stable being defined as it doesn't break down.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

In terms of scalability, with the right people supporting it, who have the skills to do so, it would scale up. It's likely to be true in the context of the overall tool called Power BI that Microsoft has released, and which has high credibility among Gardner Group and others about it being available for business intelligence.

The solution isn't used often or widely per se. Not many people, if any, use it regularly due to the fact that an instance of SQL Server is set up only to accomplish a project relevant to a course that needs to have a database. After that, it doesn't stick around. It doesn't last longer than that.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

Previous to my position at the university, I worked both as an employee and a consultant and was very much involved with Oracle as a database for years, going back to 1997 and until about 2010.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup isn't complex. It's certainly straightforward. The downloads and the installs don't all fall apart. It succeeds. The constraint is in the context of the students enabling a SQL Server to run on a laptop. That's a constraint rather than on an actual problem with the hardware server itself. 

Deployment takes, on average, about four hours. After that, you have a somewhat bare-bones server with the capability of running SQL datum to create the data itself or to import it from another database.

Since the solution is only really used for training purposes for classes and isn't meant to exist permanently, there's no one who needs to really maintain it.

What about the implementation team?

I don't recall any help from people in the university who had the knowledge to support a student who was doing it for the course I was teaching. Sometimes these students have plenty of experience in their own professional job and they bring it to class to help succeed with the effort.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

I, unfortunately, do not handle licensing, so I don't know what the costs are for the product.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

MySQL as a database is sufficient for the scale of the projects that I've been talking about for ht purposes we have currently. PostgreSQL, which I do not personally know very well, is something else we looked at. It's a matter of the scale, generally. When I'm teaching, I'm probably the only member of faculty teaching actual database design in our school of engineering. We only would work on something that I call prototyping. Nothing that would reach for the responsibility of becoming our actual production database. 

What other advice do I have?

In August of last summer, we updated to the latest version of the solution. At least, at that time, it was the latest version.

What the school does in its academics is make a minimum training available for students who want to use it. They can learn how.

Now we're all online. I do not know if the University has SQL Server as the backend for any of its regular production databases. I think it only is a database for students to choose when they need one for a project.

I don't think it has extensive utilization. And in the teaching involved for online learning, I would probably express very lightweight recommendations to try it because we're not on campus. We cannot connect to a real server for a backend in order to do the install on onsite. This is just a COVID-19 in constraint.

If a company is considering utilizing this tool in the future, I would advise that they have someone on staff or in a consulting agreement who really knows the tool, and has succeeded with it.

I'd rate the solution ten out of ten. It's the right tool for production-ready or enabled databases. It's now equivalent to Oracle.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
Shivanshu Srivastav
IT Manager : HOD at Condot Systems
Real User
Handles huge amounts of data efficiently but needs optimized backup protection

Pros and Cons

  • "The replication feature, user interface, reporting services, and notification services are really good. They are providing SQL profiler and SQLCMD as their integrated software, so we don't find it difficult to integrate any of our third-party applications with MS SQL because all of them support MS SQL very clearly."
  • "Performance could be improved. There could be more support to PHP-based websites and to providing direct plugins for connections, and the related services or application services could be improved."

What is our primary use case?

We use Microsoft SQL Server as our main database. We implement our solutions to the client site, providing the machines and the SQL Server license depending on their requirements.

The SQL Server is being deployed on-prem. Most of our clients are from the pharmaceutical industry. If there is a physical database, they want a self-hosted server always on-premises. However, the market is slowly adapting to cloud servers. Scalability and security have increased, so now people are going with cloud servers like AWS, Azure, and Google Cloud. Most of our clients are hosted on-premises and they have their own server, so we don't go with any cloud server. However, we are planning to move ahead with cloud servers for many of our clients.

What is most valuable?

The replication feature, user interface, reporting services, and notification services are really good. They are providing SQL Profiler and sqlcmd as their integrated software, so we don't find it difficult to integrate any of our third-party applications with MS SQL because all of them support MS SQL very clearly. As a part of optimization, it is good for processing huge amounts of data.

What needs improvement?

Performance could be improved. There could be more support toward PHP-based websites and toward providing direct plugins for connections, and the related services or application services could be improved. The user interface could be improved so that someone with less knowledge could easily integrate and use that particular module software.

In the next release, I would like to see a separate tool provided to schedule backup or implement backup solutions on any of the servers that Microsoft has installed. This would be a small utility which I could open and point out the backup parts as well as the type of backup I want. Once I decide the time and set it up, it should be able to connect everything and then accordingly run that back up on an automated basis. 

Right now, people are making their own utilities to do that same thing, but it would be helpful if we could get it directly from Microsoft. Apart from this, it would be helpful to have small plugins or API-based connections, which could be used for integrating MS SQL with different platforms.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using MS SQL Server for 11 years, from the very first day of my job. MS SQL is widely used because its compatibility is good, especially with the .NET Framework because most are Microsoft products. The integration and the response are good, especially if you have huge amounts of data.

Now in the market, there are NoSQL options like MongoDB and Hadoop. Previously, there were pretty much three main databases: MS SQL, Oracle, and MySQL. MySQL was mostly used for small software, but many enterprise software were using MySQL because of the configuration, the compatibility, and the performance.

If you're using platforms like ASP.NET and C#, then you will want MS SQL Server because enterprise-level Microsoft provides many features like analytics services, reporting services, notification services, and now they're providing Microsoft Azure integration services.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

MS SQL is very stable. However, the corruption of databases needs to be handled more accurately. If I'm using MS SQL Server and my server accidentally restarts or one of my machines restarts accidentally, then usually the MDB or the MDF file is corrupted. That corruption of files should be handled more efficiently because the client loses most of the data. Of course, the backup plan should be more efficient, putting less load on the server. That needs to be improved and more optimized.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Scalability is good. We have worked on almost 25 loads of data and 35 loads of records in a month. Most were working fine, but after time the process slows down a bit. In MS SQL, the initial 70% would work fine, but when the database starts and the load gets full, it causes slow processing. But considering the cost, features, and compatibility with Microsoft, it's a very stable database.

How are customer service and support?

I have not been in a situation where I required help directly from MS SQL Server because we have our own service team that handles those issues.

How was the initial setup?

Initial setup was a bit complex, but it's doable because it has improved a lot. Previously, it was very hard to install MS SQL. If I had the 2016 version already installed, it allowed me to install 2018 as well. The report features were distributed between two services, and that's where it causes problems.

What about the implementation team?

We implement our solutions to the client site.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

For personal websites and personal software that isn't used by more than 100 people, I will always go for MySQL for two reasons: MySQL is free and the enterprise is very low in cost.

Oracle Enterprise is another option, but the cost is high when you consider that MySQL is free.

What other advice do I have?

I would rate this solution 7 out of 10. 

Microsoft's modules are really good. The syntax used for running the query is really easy. Their options for concurrency and locking are good, as well as their prices. They have created separate models such as distribution services and replication services. They are really good options so that if I want to take that service, I pay for it. If I don't want to, then I don't install it and I don't use it. Modular installation is something that I like about MS SQL Server.

If you have a lot of knowledge about MS SQL Server, you will be able to handle huge amounts of data very efficiently. However, you should make sure that you have regular backup protection. 

The servers which you have to purchase for installing, implementing, or managing MS SQL Server need to be optimized in a better way so that you get optimized performance from MS SQL.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises
Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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RS
Business Analytics Manager at a transportation company with 201-500 employees
Real User
Top 20
Good pricing and works well however is a bit unstable

Pros and Cons

  • "The pricing of the solution is okay. It's less expensive than Oracle, for example."
  • "Their datatypes need improvement."

What is our primary use case?

The solution is our main database and stores our data at the organization. We're a Microsoft shop. That's why it's the main database. We have licenses for the servers. The only reason I'm using that is that that's what we have. However, I don't actually like working with it.

How has it helped my organization?

The solution works. It does what you need it to do.

What is most valuable?

Their integration, SSRS and SSIS tools are really good. The flow is great.

The pricing of the solution is okay. It's less expensive than Oracle, for example.

What needs improvement?

It's night and day if you compare it to Oracle, and I am an Oracle fan.

Their datatypes need improvement. The SQL Server language in itself, its datatypes, seem like they are stuck in the eighties. Even companies that work with an SQL Server, experts on J.D. Edwards that sits on SQL Server that handles all the data transformation, they've actually converted the SQL Server datatypes so that they are more useful and easy to handle on their solutions. That tells you right then and there that their datatypes must improve.

When you run your SQL optimizer there, on the datatypes, it's very costly because it's just this level of conversion that needs to happen as opposed to just calling it numeric, or as opposed to calling it something else. Their datatypes technically work. If you know what you're doing, it really can give you all that. However, on the optimization side, on the performance side, it does struggle.

The datatype conversion to push my data to an enterprise data warehouse is difficult. I can tell you Oracle data is so much easier to ingest into it and it easier than doing it on a SQL Server.

There are many issues that I face when I'm pulling data straight from a SQL Server agent. There are more collections that I need to do or handle before it hits my target table. I noticed that due to the fact that I've been working on different databases and ingesting everything in a data warehouse. It just doesn't flow properly.

Even on their SQL Studios, that Master Studio tools, even if you try to do your conversions on their own, even though this is their native tool, you're always going to have some problems and it's always going to give you some type of error. It is just difficult to tell you what the error will be. You have to dig in and figure it out. Most of that is due to datatypes. It's just not easy. It's like pulling teeth. Especially if you have had experience using a tool, like Oracle, that is just not that painful.

There seems to be a lot of patching, which leads me to believe there may often be stability issues.

For how long have I used the solution?

I haven't used the solution for too long. I've used it here at the company for two years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The stability is more on the IT side. I have not paid attention to that as I'm outside the SQL Server. My enterprise data warehouse is not on a SQL Server. Once I get the data, I don't know what's happening in that space. It's not my realm anymore. I know they patch a lot. That gives me a hint that the solution has its issues with bugs. I can't really say if it's stable or not, however, I'm leaning towards no.

How are customer service and technical support?

I have no personal experience dealing with technical support directly. I can't speak to their responsiveness or level of knowledge.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

I'm a big fan of Oracle, which I have worked with for 18 years. Comparing the two is like comparing the iOS of Apple versus Windows. They're two very different systems and typically you either like one or the other.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

The solution doesn't cost as much as Oracle. Oracle is more expensive. That's always been the complaint with Oracle. They're very good, however, they're the most expensive out there and that's how they're losing business right now. Their big jump in the cloud happened way too late in the game, and everybody just jumped on the cloud due to high costs. If you were to compare pricing, SQL Server is much cheaper.

What other advice do I have?

I'm currently moving away from the solution.

I'm an Oracle guy, so SQL Server is new to me. I don't like it. I'm moving away from it.

If you're a Microsoft shop, definitely SQL Server is the right solution for you. If you're used to it, it definitely makes sense as an option. It's nice. It works. If you have not seen the other side of things, then you might like it. As long as you're staying in the Microsoft world, it works. However, it's very clunky. From an analytics perspective, a data handling perspective, it is clunky. That is why I decided to go to Tableau instead of Power BI. There are just too many dependencies on the ecosystem. Once you get ingested into that SQL Farm, it's hard to leverage other tools that are disrupting the industry as you're just stuck in that ecosystem.

That's an issue with Oracle as well. That's just Microsoft and Oracle. They're pretty much the same. They're an enterprise solution. And there's an advantage when you're inside an enterprise using all these different services, and the tools that they have. There's definitely a huge advantage in that, however, it's limiting. If you look at Tableau Oracle would say, "We have our OBIE" and Microsoft would say that "we have a SSRS." 

Overall, I would rate the solution at a seven out of ten.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
AL
Senior Service Architect at a tech services company with 501-1,000 employees
Real User
Stable, great with other Microsoft solutions, and can scale

Pros and Cons

  • "The solution is stable."
  • "The performance is not always the best."

What is most valuable?

While I don't like SQL Server so much, the selection was for clients so we needed to utilize it. Of course, one thing is that as great with this and other Microsoft products is that it's quite well documented and there are also light versions available. If you need to do something, you can also try it somehow on your own computer and so on. 

If I'm helping a client to define what they need to have or what they need to do in a public sector procurement process quite often we cannot fix the database as it would be limiting the competition. That's why we never rule out the SQL Server; it should be included as an option at this level.

The solution is stable. 

I haven't had issues with sizing or scaling.

What needs improvement?

If it would be more powerful it would be pretty nice. The performance is not always the best. 

Whenever we were setting up the databases, there were some character problems that did not exist on some of the other solutions. However, the exact issues are hard to recall and list. I prefer Linux solutions. That said, when we began the previous project, Microsoft SQL Server was not available for Linux platforms yet.

Nowadays, it's my understanding that there are different versions. I haven't been checking if the current versions are supporting Transact-SQL and stuff like that. I remember that when we had the first Linux-based SQL Servers were introduced, they were, of course, a bit limited from the feature point of view. Whenever it is Unix or Linux or whatever platform, it's easier to manage them and to handle them whenever you are doing remote work. 

I'm not so big fan of the Microsoft platforms as a server. However, whenever it's needed then it's needed. If you are a consultant, you need to adjust your whole mindset to whatever it's needed.

For how long have I used the solution?

I've used the solution, approximately, for several years. However, there have been gaps. There are different phases, however, I could count something like seven years where I was in an architect position in any project where this server was utilized. 

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

For the needs we had for the client it was sufficient. Whatever we needed to have - whether more server or more virtual server, the performance for the platform wasn't as good as I would like. I'm not entirely satisfied.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

I haven't been utilizing the scale capabilities. I don't have a clear impression on that, however, for our purposes, we've never had an issue.

How are customer service and technical support?

I've never dealt with technical support. The databases were handled by the service provider or service operator of our clients. We have a public sector client and they have their partner who is handling or is responsible for the platforms. Therefore, if we had a problem with the platform, the right bureaucratic way to go about getting a resolution is that we contact the service provider they have. They probably contact Microsoft. The process is bureaucratic.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

I'm also familiar with other servers such as Oracle. While we must do as the client wants or needs, if I could choose, I would probably utilize databases like Oracle or open-source databases more often. It depends on the cases. That said, quite often I'm in a position where I cannot suggest the technology, so I use what the client requests.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

We didn't pay anything for it as it was provided for our client by the provider. I cannot say about the enterprise licenses or anything. When we began the work and we needed it for our own machines, I prefer the solutions which are available, of course, as open-source or are free. And Microsoft had this express version of their database which we can utilize as well. In that sense, it is okay, however, of course, in general, I don't know.

What other advice do I have?

I've been working for a client as a consultant so I'm helping them with deployments. With one client, we're using on-premises deployments. Our client has their own service provider or service operator so they have their own IT partner who is handling their databases. If I have understood it correctly, the databases were on-premises for our client, however, it's a bit complicated when you are having and dealing with large-scale public sector actors in Finland. There are plenty of kinds of players involved.

Whether or not I would recommend the solution depends. If you are utilizing some solutions where you need the Microsoft platform-based database, it's completely okay. And if you have, for example, the solutions where you have utilized Transact-SQL or whatever, it's okay. However, if you have this kind of situation where you can make your own choices freely, you have options. And if you're utilizing Java or C, et cetera, quite often the path or logic would go towards some of the databases on the Microsoft side.

There is no clear answer. Quite often when you begin to think about your solution or you think about what you are building, the database is the first thing you decide on. There are other factors too, such as a business case or if you're just building from scratch and so on and so on. I wouldn't like to say that I never would recommend it, however, if you are building everything from the scratch and you can make all the decisions, likely it is not the first option you have or I'd suggest. 

I'd rate the solution at an eight out of ten.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises
Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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