How has it helped my organization?
In the current organisation there was no centralised data repository. Thus, statistics, reporting, and generic management information were not existent. With the introduction of SQL Server, we have consolidated relevant business data into one main repository. We built reporting structures and analytics on top of the repository to help analysts and teams manage themselves, as well as provide management information. From basic or incomplete reports and statistics, we moved to a full reporting data structure, providing a holistic view of the organisation's data.
What is most valuable?
Without any doubt the Integration Services and Analysis Services are the most widely used. These are the basis for data quality, data gathering, ETL process, as well as collation for the data warehouse, Cube-generation, and ad-hoc processes. The ease in which you may mold a process flow or even modularly add in new structures is something which is much needed in my job.
What needs improvement?
An area that definitely needs improvement is the Reporting Service side with the actual report server. Although to be fair, Microsoft has developed a new branch of tools for reporting; presumably that is why they have not improved the Reporting Service side. Nevertheless, if this was not the case then, yes, it would be an area for improvement. Another area would be the SQL Server process monitoring, which is quite basic and could sustain more information.
For how long have I used the solution?
One to three years.
What do I think about the stability of the solution?
Overall, SQL Server 2014 is a very stable product and so far I cannot remember major issues that I have encountered. The only item which I can list is application failure during Integration Services debugging, when restarting a process flow. In a number of instances the solutions fails. I have not given this much thought and simply stop and start the debugging service rather than restarting.
What do I think about the scalability of the solution?
So far, we have had no scalability issues. I have read about instances where people encounter issues online, but fortunately enough I have never encountered issues.
Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?
Yes, in the past I have worked with different versions of SQL server and have switched due to upgrades to utilise the latest version. I have also used Oracle, Tableau, SAP, and Jaspersoft.
The main reason I went for SQL Server is because it felt easier and more adaptive. Also, most of the products we use within the organisation are Microsoft-based, so that provided an extra advantage over the rest.
How was the initial setup?
Not too complex. We had spent a number of months on the design and planning stages, deciding how we would go about the setup, security, and accessibility aspects, so that when it came time for the actual setup, the process looked pretty straightforward. Don't get me wrong, it still took a number of days to finalise, but we had a concrete plan of action, the steps needed, and the work was delegated accordingly.
What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?
My advice is quite straightforward. If you know the number of users who really and truly need access to the Server then it is a no-brainer. If you do not know, then get the basic package and minimum licenses and start from there. Needless to say, users can develop/use data structures outside and then deploy onto the Server.
Which other solutions did I evaluate?
Within the current organisation, we did not look at other options. I was pretty confident that the product would do the job, based on my previous experience with similar products. One key factor which pushed us to choose SQL Server was the cost of the product versus the amount of work to develop/maintain.
What other advice do I have?
I rate it eight out of 10. It is quite a good product and has improved dramatically. Like all products, it has bugs here and there and some areas still need improvement.
I have been using the solution for the past two and half years, however, I have worked with older versions of SQL Server (2012, 2008, 2005). The solution is quite powerful and versatile and I have not yet used all the areas/modules of the solution. It is not always easy to utilise all the available modules for the solution, especially if your work is focused solely on a particular area. Nonetheless, I try to use different areas for side projects.
Plan thoroughly before, and once implemented go through the structure regularly and remodel accordingly. When planning, go through all the various sections, resources, accessibility, security etc.