What is our primary use case?
SQL Server is enterprise database software. It provides the back end for any number of different applications, including web applications, and other types of internal applications, and software-based applications. It also provides a back end for enterprise backup tools. It's incredibly diverse in terms of its use case.
What is most valuable?
Scalability, cluster ability, ease of use, ease of implementation — these are all great.
What needs improvement?
In terms of exceptionally large databases, it doesn't scale as well as Oracle. It scales excellently and it's flexible and it can provide a solution for exceptionally large databases, but it doesn't work as well as Oracle does for this particular use case. The performance starts to drag in the case of exceptionally large databases; especially where there's a lot more feature functionality. With Oracle, there's a lot more tunability.
For how long have I used the solution?
I have been working with this product for 20 years.
What do I think about the stability of the solution?
It's exceptionally stable. The ease of implementation and the ease of use can't be beaten. I think it's outstanding overall.
What do I think about the scalability of the solution?
Scalability-wise, it's outstanding. The one limitation it has is that at the very, very high end of petabytes-sized databases, it doesn't scale as well as Oracle. Still, you're not going to run into very many exceptionally large databases. Almost 100% of the use cases for it scale very well.
How are customer service and technical support?
Technical support is available for a separate cost. If you don't have a subscription or a support contract, then you don't get support. You'll be stuck with online forums — that's how you'll have to get answers to questions. Assuming you have a support contract with Microsoft, it's outstanding.
How was the initial setup?
The initial setup was straightforward.
What was our ROI?
This solution is available at a much lower price point than Oracle. Plus, it includes 99% of the same feature functionality. I'd say it knocks ROI out of the park.
What other advice do I have?
If you're interested in using this product, make sure that you have a good understanding of best practices for database implementation. Make sure to incorporate them in your deployment right off the bat. You won't want to have to go back and have to take production databases down because you have to change the configuration, post-implementation. Make sure you get all of these things done, pre-production implementation.
They've come a long, long way in the 20 years I've been working with them. Overall, on a scale from one to ten, I would give SQL Server a rating of nine.