Meet Microsoft SQL Server: How optimising your SQL Server can help your business

You *may* have heard of the database programming language SQL before, but do you know about the benefits of using a Microsoft Sequel Server?

SQL (pronounced Sequel) stands for Structured Query Language, and it is the standard database programming language in the world.

Microsoft SQL Server (A.K.A MS SQL Server) is a RDBMS (Relational database management system Software) that we use at Timehouse. MS SQL Server uses the T-SQL programming language: an enhanced version of standard SQL.

At Timehouse, we use Microsoft SQL Server as our system software to create the right kind of infrastructure for our clients, as well as using it as part of our Time3.0 products

So let’s take a closer look at MS SQL Server and SQL technology and how it can help your business.

SQL vs MS SQL Server

SQL is a programming language used by database admins and developers around the world; SQL has been around since the 1970s, but it has gone through a whole raft of updates and upgrades since then. SQL is used in relational databases, in contrast to object library databases that deal with unstructured data.  SQL has statements for a variety of useful database tasks such as querying data, updating rows in a table, controlling database access, managing database integrity etc. 

SQL Server is Microsoft’s relational database management system (RDBMS) that saves database information and runs SQL commands and queries. It can also be used to manage databases and it was first created in 1989. As a computer application and database server, MS SQL Server is very well respected and supported. There are many different versions of MS SQL, with the latest being released in 2022.

When considering whether MS SQL Server is right for you, keep in mind that it is always about choosing the right tool for the right function based on the specific parameters you need. Also, there are different ways of harnessing SQL Server: it can scaled up or down, working on individual machines or across Azure networks. 

MS SQL Server analyses itself to improve performance 

First of all, one of the great features of MS SQL Server is the fact that it is clever enough to know how to optimise itself, with Microsoft putting a lot of emphasis on intelligent data when it comes to new SQL Server releases. As a database server, MS SQL is packed with telemetric insights.

MS SQL Server is constantly looking at its own workload and preload times, analysing its own performance. It will look at things like queries, organisation, indices etc., constantly seeking faster and more efficient ways to deliver values, making suggestions, and essentially upgrading itself. This system of self-diagnostics means we have a lot of opportunity when it comes to optimisation. 

Creating the right queries 

In a query-based language, finding the right queries is important: how you interrogate your data impacts how quickly your database can come up with the right values. Sometimes database delays simply come down to poorly formed queries. This is why it is important to analyse your queries and focus on delivery, creating a balance between getting the fastest and the best (most accurate) results. 

Optimisation is relative 

MS SQL Server can be optimised in different ways and improved in various places: there is not a prescriptive checklist to follow for database performance. A better approach is to look at issues in the context of what you want to achieve.  

This will help you decide things like whether you need more resources to run your database, or whether it is actually about having more agile, dynamic resources that respond to server load. 

You might also find that your issues are more tied to the database itself, or the queries. Maybe there is a simpler path to reaching the same results and values? 

Knowing the root of the issue will help you solve it better, as simply upping resources is not a sure-fire way to improve database performance if the real issue lies elsewhere.  

Things slow down with time 

One line can become a million lines over time, and you would be surprised how quickly that can happen! 

Performance in SQL basically comes down to speed, which can be impacted by time and the accumulation of data in your database. As time goes on, databases tend to slow down and perform less well. That is why it is important to update your database and remove unnecessary elements over time. 

Security matters 

SQL injections are a common cybersecurity threat, so optimising your SQL server is also about keeping on top of security. A frequently updated and well-managed server will be a lot more secure and less likely to fall into common cybersecurity traps. Don’t leave things “open” and allow outside forces to penetrate your database through inserting rogue SQL queries. 

Microsoft places a lot of emphasis on security: another reason we like to rely on this technology.

Why we use MS SQL Server

The beauty of using a tried and tested system like MS SQL Server is that it is constantly developing, and it is heavily invested in. In terms of performance, cost, and usability, there really is no contest when it comes to similar tools and platforms.  Features such as in-built encryption and enhanced database recovery ensure we are always on top of security.

We also like the fact that it is also embedded in the Microsoft ecosystem that we use more widely. The benefits of working in the same ecosystem include synergy benefits and the access to ready-made libraries, as well as the obvious ease of documentation and integration. By using Microsoft products, we can also continue to build on our internal knowledge.   

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