What is most valuable?
I would rate MS SQL Server 4/5 for its ease of administration,rich features, Nice GUI support for all its complex features.
Valuable features include:
1.Management Studio (Nice GUI support for all its complex features.)
2.Hot add CPU
3.Configure Dynamic memory also configure MIN and MAX memory.( Very flexible)
4.Replication ( Very Simple).
5.Clustering (The best high availability feature available among all
its compitators due to its robustness and scalability).
6.SSIS ( Very rich).
7.In memory OLTP in SQL Server 2012
8.Always On (High Availability) in SQL Server 2012
9.SQL Server Profiler
How has it helped my organization?
The MSBI features SSAS, SSIS as well as SSRS together has enabled us to build a data warehouse for our Enterprise with Business Intelligence reports around the data. We have fully exploited its all complex features like Slowly Changing Dimensions in SSIS etc.
What needs improvement?
I am not sure if these areas have been taken care in SQL 2012 but areas for improvement include:
1.In SQL 2008 ,Data encryption is not a fully mature feature.Encryption works fine for individual rows.For handling a batch a for loop has to be written.This is not straight forward.
2.Horizontal partitioning is not a fully mature feature.In horizontal partitioning Partition key has to be part of primary key.This becomes difficult to implement in already existing database.
For how long have I used the solution?
What was my experience with deployment of the solution?
What do I think about the stability of the solution?
What do I think about the scalability of the solution?
How are customer service and technical support?
Good. Technical Support
Good. We have had only a few issues.
Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?
We were a Microsoft shop (.NET, Share point etc) primarily, hence using MS SQL Server 2008.
How was the initial setup?
What about the implementation team?
We implemented through in-house.
What other advice do I have?
1. Find out the right licensing mode you require (Comes with different options CAL/Server and # of CPUs and Virtualisation).
2. Use the Enterprise lincencing or Standard edition or Web according to your need.
3.Make use of SQL Server Clustering or LOg Shipping high availability solution, the best you can find.