People learn from a very early age to organize large amounts of information into manageable groups based on relationship. Most information can be organized into lists. For the average office worker, Microsoft Excel is the usual choice for managing lists such as telephone numbers and personnel information. But Excel us not well suited for managing relational data. When faced with organizing huge amounts of information into multiple tables based on relationships, organizations, institutions, individuals, and governments use Microsoft SQL Server.
A SQL Server database is a relational database management system (RDBMS). It can be used to organize, store, and retrieve data. The data in a SQL Server database is stored in tables that are designed for complex querying in relation to data that is stored in other tables. Each table is made up of records and each record is made up of fields. Every field can hold just one type of data for example numbers or dates or just text. If you think of the rows and columns of a spreadsheet, the rows would be analogous to the records in a table and each one for the cells in a row would be analogous to the fields in a record.
Microsoft SQL Server uses a programming language called T-SQL. Learning SQL enables users to build, query, and manipulate databases – constructing nested queries, employing functions in data retrieval, querying multiple tables and more. Here’s an example of what an simple SQL query looks like:
SELECT FirstName, LastName, Telephone, Address, City, State, Zip
WHERE Balance > 0
In this example we want to query the database and have it return a list of all customers that have outstanding balances. This query will return a number of customer records with the requested fields.
Relational databases are efficient and intuitive data structures. In a relational database a one-to-many relationship can be defined. For example, a clothing store might have a database for customer orders. One table will contain customer names, another table will contain customer orders, and another order items. The relationship of orders to customers is one to many because one customer can have many orders. The relationship of the orders to the order items is also a one to many relationship. One order can have many order items. One to many relationships are also called parent-child relationships.
There are several editions of Microsoft SQL Server targeted at a number of different users. It can accommodate small single system applications and large internet facing application with numerous concurrent users.
Relational databases are both efficient and intuitive. Whether a user is an engineer in a plant that needs a database for customers or products or an individual that needs a database that allows them to print labels for a report, Microsoft SQL server can accommodate that need.
If you are considering building a system to capture data and do meaningful work with it then you’ll want to consider Microsoft SQL Server. Get your data out of spreadsheets and into a real database where it belongs!