SQL Server Overview

SQL Server is the #1 ranked solution in our list of top Relational Databases. It is most often compared to SAP HANA: SQL Server vs SAP HANA

What is SQL Server?

SQL Server is the Microsoft-driven relational database management system. This system is used to store data as well as retrieve it when necessary; these functions can be supported by individual users or by multiple users within a larger network. The Microsoft SQL Server has warehousing options, quality and integration services, management tools that are simple to implement, as well as robust tools for development.

Looking at the more technical end of things, Microsoft SQL Server uses query languages such as T-SQL and ANSI SQL. Disaster recovery is one of the product's most prominent features, in addition to in-memory performance, scalability, and corporate business intelligence capabilities.

SQL Server is also known as Microsoft SQL Server, MSSQL, MS SQL.

SQL Server Buyer's Guide

Download the SQL Server Buyer's Guide including reviews and more. Updated: July 2021

SQL Server Customers

Microsoft SQL Server is used by businesses in every industry, including Great Western Bank, Aviva, the Volvo Car Corporation, BMW, Samsung, Principality Building Society, Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield, and the Catholic District School Board of Eastern Ontario.

SQL Server Video

Pricing Advice

What users are saying about SQL Server pricing:
  • "Cost is a major derivative for any organization. It has a reasonable cost value, and its cloud support is also better than others. Comparatively, Oracle can do the same things or is even better in certain areas, but it is expensive. The cost along with the support are the plus factors for SQL Server."
  • "It is expensive, especially when you have open-source products that are just about as functional and they're free. They might want to consider re-evaluating their pricing. We purchased it in retail. It was somewhere in the neighborhood of 9,000. There is just the standard licensing fee. If they migrate this product the way they're trying to do everything else, eventually, it is going to be subscription-based, which is going to suck, but that's the way the industry is going, so it is what it is."

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HarkamalSingh
User at a manufacturing company with 10,001+ employees
Real User
Top 5Leaderboard
A stable, scalable, and easy-to-deploy solution that pretty much covers everything

What is our primary use case?

The .NET applications use SQL Servers on a very large scale. Basically, about 80% or 90% of the database platform is on SQL Server. We are working on version 2019, but we are also now working on the cloud databases. Our goal is to stay away from versions. We are going to go version-less and move to Azure SQL or managed instance, which is version-less. This way we won't need to worry about any upgrades or any version changes because Microsoft is going to take care of these things. We will always have the latest and greatest version.

Pros and Cons

  • "It is a pretty good solution. The on-premise version 2019 has many features, and they had introduced a really good and stable environment in version 2019. It has very good integration with big data clusters and other things. It covers pretty much everything that you can do with a SQL server. You can use any language to connect to it, which is not there in other solutions. They have also introduced Python, and it also has ArcScale. PaaS is a modern, scalable database. You can use Power Automate and a lot of features in this. It is very easy, and you don't have to worry about versions and upgrades. Microsoft keeps on adding new features to this solution. Microsoft is improving its connectivity on an ongoing basis. It connects well with Office 365. If you see something not working, in a couple of weeks, it is going to work because there is a team working on it. You can vote for the things that are missing, and Microsoft can work on them depending on the product that they're launching."
  • "There are a lot of improvements in the cloud space about which we open a case with Microsoft every now and then. These improvements are not in terms of features or functionality. They are more related to their own compatibility or connectivity on which they keep on working to improve the product."

What other advice do I have?

You need to know the concepts and the business logic before using this solution. It is not straightforward. You need to know what your application needs are and only then you can work on it. You also need to know about the product and how it works. I would probably advise others to move to the cloud version, which is a modern database. If you want to use SQL Server, Azure is the best because you get the hybrid benefits. You can bring your own license, and you can save costs. You can save 55% of the cost. With AWS, you have to buy your license, which makes it expensive. If you are using SQL…
ITCS user
Information Technology Software Developer at a financial services firm with 501-1,000 employees
Real User
Top 5Leaderboard
Easy to use, can be used for free, and has great scalability

What is our primary use case?

We have a few use cases. They range from temporary storage to long-term storage to backup systems. We're using the full versatile suite for the product currently. It's not just a stand-alone system.

Pros and Cons

  • "It's a good learning environment, it's easy enough to learn and understand. Anybody that picks up the language early on will be able to develop in it."
  • "From a development perspective, the solution needs to be a lot easier to understand or it needs to be easier to implement API packages for connection pooling so we don't have connection interruptions when, let's say, a hundred people simultaneously access the network on a given system, utilizing a specific or single database."

What other advice do I have?

Overall, I would rate the solution at a nine out of ten. We've been quite happy with the solution so far. Basically with any databasing system, SQL included, a company should be looking at the requirements for why they're looking for any type of databasing system. Is it for backups? Is it for storage? Is it for cross-communication between departments or inter-department communication? Who's going to have the access prior? If it's just going to be on a technical or development level, not a lot of people need to worry about integration requirements except the installation team. Other than that…
Learn what your peers think about SQL Server. Get advice and tips from experienced pros sharing their opinions. Updated: July 2021.
523,431 professionals have used our research since 2012.
BL
Certified Adjunct Faculty, School of Engineering and Computing at a university with 1,001-5,000 employees
Real User
Top 5Leaderboard
Stable with a straightforward setup and the capability to scale

What is our primary use case?

In my role as faculty, I would use it to facilitate having a database with all the teachers needed that are equivalent to Oracle as a database for a small scale project.

Pros and Cons

  • "It helps with moving the design of the database into reality."
  • "The product overall would benefit from the addition of better tutorials to help master the skills necessary to actually build a project database. Right now, what is available isn't sufficient."

What other advice do I have?

In August of last summer, we updated to the latest version of the solution. At least, at that time, it was the latest version. What the school does in its academics is make a minimum training available for students who want to use it. They can learn how. Now we're all online. I do not know if the University has SQL Server as the backend for any of its regular production databases. I think it only is a database for students to choose when they need one for a project. I don't think it has extensive utilization. And in the teaching involved for online learning, I would probably express very…
RS
Business Analytics Manager at a transportation company with 201-500 employees
Real User
Top 20
Good pricing and works well however is a bit unstable

What is our primary use case?

The solution is our main database and stores our data at the organization. We're a Microsoft shop. That's why it's the main database. We have licenses for the servers. The only reason I'm using that is that that's what we have. However, I don't actually like working with it.

Pros and Cons

  • "The pricing of the solution is okay. It's less expensive than Oracle, for example."
  • "Their datatypes need improvement."

What other advice do I have?

I'm currently moving away from the solution. I'm an Oracle guy, so SQL Server is new to me. I don't like it. I'm moving away from it. If you're a Microsoft shop, definitely SQL Server is the right solution for you. If you're used to it, it definitely makes sense as an option. It's nice. It works. If you have not seen the other side of things, then you might like it. As long as you're staying in the Microsoft world, it works. However, it's very clunky. From an analytics perspective, a data handling perspective, it is clunky. That is why I decided to go to Tableau instead of Power BI. There are…
Lional Angelo
Manager Digital Technologies at a real estate/law firm with 51-200 employees
Real User
Top 20
Easy to use, simple to configure, and has a straightforward setup

Pros and Cons

  • "The solution has the capability to scale."
  • "Microsoft doesn't have active-active load balancing scenarios. It's always a failover cluster."

What other advice do I have?

We are customers and end-users. I'm certified in SQL. I have a pretty good understanding of the product. Overall, I would rate the solution at a nine out of ten. Whether or not it would work well for a company all depends on what purpose it is being used for. However, SQL is simple to use and simple to configure, and very powerful in terms of relational database and the SQL language and functions it comes with. If you configure it well and then use it well, the outcome will likely be very good.
Shanti Sahu
Cloud Data Architect (Data service Team) at NTT Data India Enterprise Application Services Pri
Vendor
Top 20
Easy to code but it should improve cloud functionality

What is our primary use case?

We use SQL Server to ingest and to extract reports for multiple customers.

Pros and Cons

  • "The feature that I have found most valuable is that it is easy to code."
  • "In terms of what could be improved, everything on-premise is now moving to the cloud. Obviously SQL Server has also moved, because Microsoft Excel has its own cloud called Azure Finance. Every solution comes with its own advantages and disadvantages."

What other advice do I have?

My advice is that this is the time to completely move to the cloud. If you have a golden or platinum partnership with Microsoft or you have good Microsoft resources then best is to move azure clouds. Azure DB services have been improved a lot in the past few years and it continually improving like others. They are trying to make it closer to the on-premises version. I know it cannot be exactly like on-premises but they can bring most important features. For example Azure brings SSIS features in ADF which solve lot of issues. Another example, Azure launch Snowflake connector with ADF which…
DG
Information Systems Manager at a aerospace/defense firm with 51-200 employees
Real User
Top 20
A scalable and easy-to-deploy solution that secures our data, saves time, and just runs

What is our primary use case?

It is used for the backend database for our ERP system and the document management system. We are using its latest version.

Pros and Cons

  • "The management studio is probably the thing we use the most for running quick queries and creating quick reports. Quite often, somebody comes and says, "Hey, can you find XYZ?" It is so much easier just to jump in there and run a quick query."
  • "They can build more performance-tuning tools in it. They can also make the stuff a little more user-friendly and provide the ability to schedule jobs. They can perhaps also streamline it a little bit so that it is not so resource-intensive, which would be helpful. SQL Server has a tendency to consume all the memory you allow it to. If you are not careful, you can basically break your server. I would like to see it having a smaller footprint in terms of system resource consumption. They might want to consider re-evaluating their pricing. It is expensive."

What other advice do I have?

If you've never done it before, Microsoft has plenty of documentation and online guides to walk you through it. Just take your time, and follow the steps. If you can do it in a virtual environment, it is better because it is easier to start over if you mess it up, but it is fairly user-friendly. If you have questions during the setup, stop and Google it. The information is out there. I would rate SQL Server an eight out of ten because there is always room for improvement.
WL
Senior Programmer at a tech services company with 51-200 employees
Real User
Top 20
Easy to set up with good scalability and extensive online documentation

What is our primary use case?

We primarily use the solution as a database for business operations.

Pros and Cons

  • "The product has very good online documentation that can be used for troubleshooting."
  • "The licensing costs are very high."

What other advice do I have?

Currently, we're just Microsoft customers, although we would like to have a partnership with the company in the future. I haven't done the HA for SQL server yet, therefore, I'm not sure how hard it is and how difficult it would be to implement, or how stable and how scalable it is. There are two markets really. It's Microsoft and non-Microsoft. If anyone is familiar with Microsoft products, then they should go with this, however, they should bear in mind that it comes at a cost. The SQL cost is quite high if a company is using it at a large scale. That said, if a company is looking at…
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