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SQL Server OverviewUNIXBusinessApplication

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: September 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."

SQL Server Reviews

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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

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 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.

What is most valuable?

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. 

What needs improvement?

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.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using this solution for 13 to 14 years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

In version 2019, they introduced a really good and stable environment. Bugs are there, but bug fixes are provided by Microsoft. We have premium support with Microsoft. If we find a bug, they work on it and provide a solution.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

It is very scalable, but its scalability also depends on what you're using. If it is on-premise, you have to do everything on your own to scale it out. It is easy, but you have to get the infrastructure ready to scale it out. It is a manual process. If you're on a cloud, then it is pretty much easy and straightforward if your cloud has those availabilities. It also has a Hyperscale, where you can put the upper and lower limit, and it can scale up and down as per the use case and the compute that you need.

We have a lot of users. Everyone is connected to this. We have business users, technical users, application users, and integration users. We have 17,000 instances of SQL Server here with a lot of databases. 

How are customer service and technical support?

We use Microsoft's Premium Support. They're good. I would rate them an eight out of ten. For on-premise, you design your infrastructure. When you change something or customize a few things, it is hard to get support because the issue can be from either side. When you have a critical issue, which is not straightforward, you have to go between two different vendors, and they start finger-pointing to each other. They say that the issue is not at their end, and there is nothing wrong with their configuration. The issue is because of storage or network. These are the few things for which you have to fight for support. I don't know how they will improve this. It only happens sometimes for an on-premise solution. We don't run into those issues on the cloud because it is their own setup.

A cloud solution is pretty much on their site. They are managing the infrastructure, so they have to provide the solution, and they are good at it, but when you have on-premise, you decide what storage to use. Sometimes, you ignore Microsoft's recommendation, and you don't want to use what they are suggesting. When we run into issues on the DB side or the application side, they can point out to different vendors or causes for issues. 

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

We also have Oracle, Db2, and MongoDB databases here. We also have some NoSQL apps, but comparatively, SQL Server has a bigger footprint, and it is better than the others. 

Other systems are more complex to configure. When you configure a cluster on the SQL itself, it is easy to configure because you've got more resources, whereas, when you have to configure Oracle or Db2, you have to have a SPEC process because they have to configure that on Red Hat Linux or Unix side. A few companies don't have special admins for Linux because the footprint is not that big. You might have two or three applications running on that system. When you run into a problem, you need to hire someone who can implement it for you, whereas most of the companies, almost 80%, are Microsoft shops. They already have the talent and resources available. You also have offline help and support. You have a lot of blogs or online help available when it comes to Microsoft, but when you go to other solutions like Oracle, sometimes it is a challenge. You really need the right person there, and not everyone will be able to do it. 

The capability of a solution also depends on your needs and configuration. If you configure things wrong, any system will fail. When I'm testing something, I always believe in the functionality because Microsoft and Oracle test their products thoroughly. I never question their functionality, but we also check it according to our plan. You have to customize things based on your needs. If you're not getting the results, you have to consult the tech support and bring them in to configure it. These are the things that you run into when you are in your own data center. If you are not getting the throughput from the storage itself, you need to get the storage admin or storage vendor in there. When you move to the cloud, everything is taken care of.

How was the initial setup?

It is straightforward. There is no complexity. It is all automated, and we do un-attended install. We are not sitting and doing it. We just include it with the server build itself. When the server is built, we provide them the un-attended scripts to run, and everything is configured. They can use the media provided by Microsoft. Everything is done in one step. We just need to do auditing. We need to check at the right place, and we just keep checking it.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

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.

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 Server and your company is more on the Microsoft side, Azure is easier, and there is no change in it. You can also get more out of it. You don't have to put a lot of complexity in supporting or administrating it because Microsoft does that for you behind the scenes. Therefore, it is good to move to Azure SQL or to manage instances where you have more control. Both of these are PaaS solutions. There is no need to go into IES. It is better to stay on-premise than on IES because it creates more complexity. This is because you still have to build the servers, and you have to still manage them. If your application is compatible to be used with PostgreSQL or MySQL, you can also move there.

It also depends on the kind of talent you have in your company. You have to consider the talent that you have. You can choose other technologies, but you need support from your teams. If they're .NET developers and you have to build the knowledge base, it is smoother to stay with SQL Server because you have to change less on the coding side.

I would rate SQL Server a ten out of ten.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

Public Cloud

If public cloud, private cloud, or hybrid cloud, which cloud provider do you use?

Microsoft Azure
Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner
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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

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 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.

How has it helped my organization?

I don't have access to that level of knowledge. We just basically work with it on a small scale capacity in our department. That type of information and statistics are held by our IT administrators.

What is most valuable?

The solution is very easy to use for me. SQL is the most user-friendly system for databasing aside from Postgres. 

Due to the financial costs of Postgres, the SQL system is a good alternative as the product can be utilized free of charge. 

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.

What needs improvement?

With any development language, any programming or software language available, there's always room for improvement. 

With SQL, it requires the more advanced integrated capabilities of Postgres, however, those capabilities do really come with obvious kinds of costs. For example, if SQL were to improve its functionality to incorporate the functionality that is in Postgres. Obviously, some kind of financial licensing will need to be incorporated. It's a bit of a catch-22 with a system similar to an SQL Server. If we want to avoid costs, we have to take a step back from certain integration capabilities.

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. Any type of connection pool or connection integration that could increase the total number of users to access simultaneously would be beneficial. That said, I also know there are some security risks involved with that type of connection pooling. However, something from SQL-side that can increase its connection access or its connection stability for multiple user access to a single database system would be great.

For how long have I used the solution?

I've been using the solution for the past six months or so.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The solution is extremely stable. It's got an amazing backup repository system, a fail-safe system for if any type of data should it be lost. It's got a backup system that stores everything on a day-to-day basis or an hourly basis as well. Depending on the backup and storage drive that you're using or the capacity of the server it is installed on or the local machine, you can pretty much back up any type of critical data, any recent data, or any archive-based data relatively fast. You can also pull that data again, based on the system restore and the server restore is fairly quick.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

The solution is 100% scalable to any kind of circumstances you find yourself in. It's easy to use and ready for any type of environment you're working on. It's scalable to any environment as well as to any amount of data. The only limiting aspect of scalability is if you're working on a local system or working on a server-based system. The physical data storage capacity is the only hindrance to scalability. If you've got sufficient data storage, then the scalability is endless.

The only people, to my knowledge, that have any access to the SQL Servers would be the administration and the department of development. The numbers range from anything from 50 to 150 people at any given time.

I'm not sure if we have plans, as an organization, to increase usage.

How are customer service and technical support?

Any technical support queries we relay to our IT administration team and the IT administration team handle it directly with Microsoft Support. I haven't actually dealt with them directly.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

I have experience with Postgres.

The main functionality that I've encountered within the six months is that Postgres is capable to incorporate itself or integrate itself with any known choosing standard API. With the SQL Server, we've got to use connection strings or connection pooling to do this. The API function is not as robust in SQL Server as it is in Postgres as the Postgres user package is based on APIs. Packages based on other companies or software languages that have the communication protocols are already enabled. With SQL Server, you have to hard code those connection strings or connection poolings for the APIs, which makes it far more difficult to use. However, it is still capable of doing it, it is just a longer approach.

How was the initial setup?

Due to the fact that Postgres is a fully integrated package installation, done from a single installer, with SQL Server you can do an advanced complex installation which requires a lot of IT administration background knowledge. Alternatively, you can do a stand-alone use case installation system, if you're just using it for a backup system. They've got a backup package that you install and that's the standard installation you use. Due to SQL's user-friendly approach, it's got a lot of pre-made installation packages that you can install based on the needs or necessities of the company.

The length of time that SQL Server standard installation takes obviously depends on network speed, and UT package downloads. It could take anywhere from five minutes to half an hour. This is all dependent on the network speed that you're running the server installation on. If you've got a fast enough network speed, it should take no longer than five minutes. With a home-based network speed, say a fiber line with 10 megs, it should take you about 15 to 30 minutes just for a standard installation.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

The solution is very affordable. It can be used free of charge.

There are payment packages for SQL based on dollars for any level of additions. They offer enterprise, express, and production additions that are available as well as community additions and student additions, which are completely free.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

Before anybody had even considered doing any kind of database access, they reviewed all possible capabilities, according to price, functionality, and integration requirements. Ultimately, they settled from the start on SQL Server.

As far as I remember, our administration team did review other options. I'm not familiar with the options that were available prior to this, however, as they stated to me, before SQL has been the one from the go ahead, the option that they chose and they've been running with it since then.

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, companies should just look at the financial as well as system requirements that are basically needed for the project or for the company you're in. If a company needs a large scale solution, financially speaking, SQL would be a good solution, however, Postgres would be a far better solution due to its capabilities, integration and API access.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

Public Cloud
Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
Learn what your peers think about SQL Server. Get advice and tips from experienced pros sharing their opinions. Updated: September 2021.
541,462 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

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 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.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable aspect of the solution is that the metadata is just generalized. Metadata is the way that data is described both for technical aspects of building a database and for the user interfaces. Our metadata is the objects attached to the database, not in the software. 

It helps with moving the design of the database into reality.

What needs improvement?

The server itself doesn't need much improvement. 

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.

Overall, I would suggest a nice tight integration with the toolset now known as Power BI. It might not even be missing, however, I'm planning to concentrate a lot of my time with the tutorials and I have Power BI loaded onto my HP laptop. bA brilliant student did it for me when she demoed it in a class. I'm going to use that copy of it and have many tutorials to get ready. 

For how long have I used the solution?

I have enough experience to support students and grad students who use it as a database backend to accomplish their projects.

I have to qualify my experience with "using" the solution. I have done not very much on my own individually or for a client using SQL Server. I have been supportive in the role of facilitator for students to succeed with it and to be observant of how it is very similar in conceptual important ways to my very deep experience with Oracle as the database backend.

That said, I've been familiar with the solution for about ten years now.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

What I don't know yet is if it would be stable when being migrated from the scale of a project that would be in a prototype on a small machine, into a much larger environment in order to get ready to go to production. I'm not sure of that experience, whether it's vulnerable or not. I haven't tried it.

However, in my experience, so far, the solution is quite stable. In terms of stability, with Microsoft being so supportive of its success, and so many smart professionals who have the skillsets to use it, that it would be stable. I'm confident about that. It's not a new tool, so stable being defined as it doesn't break down.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

In terms of scalability, with the right people supporting it, who have the skills to do so, it would scale up. It's likely to be true in the context of the overall tool called Power BI that Microsoft has released, and which has high credibility among Gardner Group and others about it being available for business intelligence.

The solution isn't used often or widely per se. Not many people, if any, use it regularly due to the fact that an instance of SQL Server is set up only to accomplish a project relevant to a course that needs to have a database. After that, it doesn't stick around. It doesn't last longer than that.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

Previous to my position at the university, I worked both as an employee and a consultant and was very much involved with Oracle as a database for years, going back to 1997 and until about 2010.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup isn't complex. It's certainly straightforward. The downloads and the installs don't all fall apart. It succeeds. The constraint is in the context of the students enabling a SQL Server to run on a laptop. That's a constraint rather than on an actual problem with the hardware server itself. 

Deployment takes, on average, about four hours. After that, you have a somewhat bare-bones server with the capability of running SQL datum to create the data itself or to import it from another database.

Since the solution is only really used for training purposes for classes and isn't meant to exist permanently, there's no one who needs to really maintain it.

What about the implementation team?

I don't recall any help from people in the university who had the knowledge to support a student who was doing it for the course I was teaching. Sometimes these students have plenty of experience in their own professional job and they bring it to class to help succeed with the effort.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

I, unfortunately, do not handle licensing, so I don't know what the costs are for the product.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

MySQL as a database is sufficient for the scale of the projects that I've been talking about for ht purposes we have currently. PostgreSQL, which I do not personally know very well, is something else we looked at. It's a matter of the scale, generally. When I'm teaching, I'm probably the only member of faculty teaching actual database design in our school of engineering. We only would work on something that I call prototyping. Nothing that would reach for the responsibility of becoming our actual production database. 

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 lightweight recommendations to try it because we're not on campus. We cannot connect to a real server for a backend in order to do the install on onsite. This is just a COVID-19 in constraint.

If a company is considering utilizing this tool in the future, I would advise that they have someone on staff or in a consulting agreement who really knows the tool, and has succeeded with it.

I'd rate the solution ten out of ten. It's the right tool for production-ready or enabled databases. It's now equivalent to Oracle.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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

Pros and Cons

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

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.

How has it helped my organization?

The solution works. It does what you need it to do.

What is most valuable?

Their integration, SSRS and SSIS tools are really good. The flow is great.

The pricing of the solution is okay. It's less expensive than Oracle, for example.

What needs improvement?

It's night and day if you compare it to Oracle, and I am an Oracle fan.

Their datatypes need improvement. The SQL Server language in itself, its datatypes, seem like they are stuck in the eighties. Even companies that work with an SQL Server, experts on J.D. Edwards that sits on SQL Server that handles all the data transformation, they've actually converted the SQL Server datatypes so that they are more useful and easy to handle on their solutions. That tells you right then and there that their datatypes must improve.

When you run your SQL optimizer there, on the datatypes, it's very costly because it's just this level of conversion that needs to happen as opposed to just calling it numeric, or as opposed to calling it something else. Their datatypes technically work. If you know what you're doing, it really can give you all that. However, on the optimization side, on the performance side, it does struggle.

The datatype conversion to push my data to an enterprise data warehouse is difficult. I can tell you Oracle data is so much easier to ingest into it and it easier than doing it on a SQL Server.

There are many issues that I face when I'm pulling data straight from a SQL Server agent. There are more collections that I need to do or handle before it hits my target table. I noticed that due to the fact that I've been working on different databases and ingesting everything in a data warehouse. It just doesn't flow properly.

Even on their SQL Studios, that Master Studio tools, even if you try to do your conversions on their own, even though this is their native tool, you're always going to have some problems and it's always going to give you some type of error. It is just difficult to tell you what the error will be. You have to dig in and figure it out. Most of that is due to datatypes. It's just not easy. It's like pulling teeth. Especially if you have had experience using a tool, like Oracle, that is just not that painful.

There seems to be a lot of patching, which leads me to believe there may often be stability issues.

For how long have I used the solution?

I haven't used the solution for too long. I've used it here at the company for two years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The stability is more on the IT side. I have not paid attention to that as I'm outside the SQL Server. My enterprise data warehouse is not on a SQL Server. Once I get the data, I don't know what's happening in that space. It's not my realm anymore. I know they patch a lot. That gives me a hint that the solution has its issues with bugs. I can't really say if it's stable or not, however, I'm leaning towards no.

How are customer service and technical support?

I have no personal experience dealing with technical support directly. I can't speak to their responsiveness or level of knowledge.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

I'm a big fan of Oracle, which I have worked with for 18 years. Comparing the two is like comparing the iOS of Apple versus Windows. They're two very different systems and typically you either like one or the other.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

The solution doesn't cost as much as Oracle. Oracle is more expensive. That's always been the complaint with Oracle. They're very good, however, they're the most expensive out there and that's how they're losing business right now. Their big jump in the cloud happened way too late in the game, and everybody just jumped on the cloud due to high costs. If you were to compare pricing, SQL Server is much cheaper.

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 just too many dependencies on the ecosystem. Once you get ingested into that SQL Farm, it's hard to leverage other tools that are disrupting the industry as you're just stuck in that ecosystem.

That's an issue with Oracle as well. That's just Microsoft and Oracle. They're pretty much the same. They're an enterprise solution. And there's an advantage when you're inside an enterprise using all these different services, and the tools that they have. There's definitely a huge advantage in that, however, it's limiting. If you look at Tableau Oracle would say, "We have our OBIE" and Microsoft would say that "we have a SSRS." 

Overall, I would rate the solution at a seven out of ten.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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AL
Senior Service Architect at a tech services company with 501-1,000 employees
Real User
Top 20
Stable, great with other Microsoft solutions, and can scale

Pros and Cons

  • "The solution is stable."
  • "The performance is not always the best."

What is most valuable?

While I don't like SQL Server so much, the selection was for clients so we needed to utilize it. Of course, one thing is that as great with this and other Microsoft products is that it's quite well documented and there are also light versions available. If you need to do something, you can also try it somehow on your own computer and so on. 

If I'm helping a client to define what they need to have or what they need to do in a public sector procurement process quite often we cannot fix the database as it would be limiting the competition. That's why we never rule out the SQL Server; it should be included as an option at this level.

The solution is stable. 

I haven't had issues with sizing or scaling.

What needs improvement?

If it would be more powerful it would be pretty nice. The performance is not always the best. 

Whenever we were setting up the databases, there were some character problems that did not exist on some of the other solutions. However, the exact issues are hard to recall and list. I prefer Linux solutions. That said, when we began the previous project, Microsoft SQL Server was not available for Linux platforms yet.

Nowadays, it's my understanding that there are different versions. I haven't been checking if the current versions are supporting Transact-SQL and stuff like that. I remember that when we had the first Linux-based SQL Servers were introduced, they were, of course, a bit limited from the feature point of view. Whenever it is Unix or Linux or whatever platform, it's easier to manage them and to handle them whenever you are doing remote work. 

I'm not so big fan of the Microsoft platforms as a server. However, whenever it's needed then it's needed. If you are a consultant, you need to adjust your whole mindset to whatever it's needed.

For how long have I used the solution?

I've used the solution, approximately, for several years. However, there have been gaps. There are different phases, however, I could count something like seven years where I was in an architect position in any project where this server was utilized. 

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

For the needs we had for the client it was sufficient. Whatever we needed to have - whether more server or more virtual server, the performance for the platform wasn't as good as I would like. I'm not entirely satisfied.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

I haven't been utilizing the scale capabilities. I don't have a clear impression on that, however, for our purposes, we've never had an issue.

How are customer service and technical support?

I've never dealt with technical support. The databases were handled by the service provider or service operator of our clients. We have a public sector client and they have their partner who is handling or is responsible for the platforms. Therefore, if we had a problem with the platform, the right bureaucratic way to go about getting a resolution is that we contact the service provider they have. They probably contact Microsoft. The process is bureaucratic.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

I'm also familiar with other servers such as Oracle. While we must do as the client wants or needs, if I could choose, I would probably utilize databases like Oracle or open-source databases more often. It depends on the cases. That said, quite often I'm in a position where I cannot suggest the technology, so I use what the client requests.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

We didn't pay anything for it as it was provided for our client by the provider. I cannot say about the enterprise licenses or anything. When we began the work and we needed it for our own machines, I prefer the solutions which are available, of course, as open-source or are free. And Microsoft had this express version of their database which we can utilize as well. In that sense, it is okay, however, of course, in general, I don't know.

What other advice do I have?

I've been working for a client as a consultant so I'm helping them with deployments. With one client, we're using on-premises deployments. Our client has their own service provider or service operator so they have their own IT partner who is handling their databases. If I have understood it correctly, the databases were on-premises for our client, however, it's a bit complicated when you are having and dealing with large-scale public sector actors in Finland. There are plenty of kinds of players involved.

Whether or not I would recommend the solution depends. If you are utilizing some solutions where you need the Microsoft platform-based database, it's completely okay. And if you have, for example, the solutions where you have utilized Transact-SQL or whatever, it's okay. However, if you have this kind of situation where you can make your own choices freely, you have options. And if you're utilizing Java or C, et cetera, quite often the path or logic would go towards some of the databases on the Microsoft side.

There is no clear answer. Quite often when you begin to think about your solution or you think about what you are building, the database is the first thing you decide on. There are other factors too, such as a business case or if you're just building from scratch and so on and so on. I wouldn't like to say that I never would recommend it, however, if you are building everything from the scratch and you can make all the decisions, likely it is not the first option you have or I'd suggest. 

I'd rate the solution at an eight out of ten.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises
Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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Lional Angelo
Manager Digital Technologies at a real estate/law firm with 51-200 employees
Real User
Top 10
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."

How has it helped my organization?

Most of the application what we use today are SQL-based applications. If you take a Microsoft ecosystem, there are many tools that connect easily with SQL - especially when it comes to reporting and analytics. Power BI is one of the good examples which can easily connect to SQL and then you can pull any report you want. SQL itself has its own tools like reporting services and transformation services. It also helps you to generate reporting and analytics and data transformation.

Overall, it helps our organization a lot. Again, it depends on what requirements and company has, and for what purpose you are using it. However, from an application relational database point of view that we are using today, it helps due to the fact that it comes with all that we need. Also, from a performance point of view, it configures well.

What is most valuable?

When you use the solution with Azure, for example, you get very good scalability. You can scale fast, whether it is horizontal or vertical.

If we use the product as a PaaS, Platform as a Service, it comes with all the security features you need - including against DDoS attacks.

The product offers good bloc storage, which you can buy at an additional cost. This allows you to have large object storage if you need it.

Over a period of time, their split engine has evolved and in the latest version, they've done a lot. Even from the management tool perspective, a lot of things have been done. A lot of functions have been added.

The initial setup is pretty straightforward.

Technical support has been good.

The solution has the capability to scale.

The pricing isn't as high as other options.

SQL is very easy to use. That's a very good thing about it in general.

What needs improvement?

Microsoft doesn't have active-active load balancing scenarios. It's always a failover cluster. There is no active-active cluster, which other tools, other database providers like Oracle, provide. If Microsoft can consider or probably come up with an active-active cluster, then it would be good. It will be more powerful in a scenario like that.

The pricing, while not the most expensive, is still quite high.

They have something called Parallel Queries, however, I don't know how it works. I've never tested it in a horizontal way. I'd like to understand a bit more about it and be able to use it horizontally.

For how long have I used the solution?

I'm new to my organization and have only been using the product for three or four months here, however, previously, I worked with SQL for a long time.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

In terms of direct users, there are only a few. However, there are applications that are using SQL and those application's users are 100 plus, or maybe 300 to 400 plus users.

This company is in the phase of growth. If it grows as expected, then definitely the chances are high in terms of the number of users - which means we will scale up a bit.

How are customer service and technical support?

We have direct support from Microsoft. We have Microsoft partners as well. I don't see any problem with technical support, as we ourselves are capable of troubleshooting. I'm a certified BBS developer. If there any related issues, we take care of them internally. If not, we raise a ticket from Microsoft and we get support from them. They are helpful and responsive. We are satisfied with the level of service they provide.

How was the initial setup?

The solution is very straightforward. It's not too complex. A company shouldn't have an issue implementing it. Once you install everything and get it configured as per your requirements if you are an SQL professional and an administrator, it's very straightforward.

It's doesn't take too long to set up. Within a week you can get it deployed. If you do a standalone module, a week likely is not required. If it is in a cluster module, of course, within a week you can set up a cluster and then get things done.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

SQL pricing is slightly high compared to where it was before. That said, compared to other products like Oracle, they are still cheap. It's not overly expensive in comparison to others.

The final price you can expect all depends on your requirements. A standard version of SQL is always cheaper than an enterprise. If you're going to go on a cluster, it's particularly expensive. However, when it comes to the value and what is provided, that is also important.

It all depends on what you need. I cannot just blindly say that it's expensive or cheap as it all depends on your requirement. Comparatively, SQL is cheaper than other products like Oracle. Oracle is really expensive compared to SQL. 

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.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises
Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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Shanti Sahu
Cloud Data Architect (Data service Team) at NTT Data India Enterprise Application Services Pri
Vendor
Top 10
Easy to code but it should improve cloud functionality

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 is our primary use case?

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

How has it helped my organization?

SQL Server is cost effective in multiple ways - both the cost of software and the cost of the resource. Meaning, how many resources do we have and what is their expertise level? How easily can they use the SQL Servers or can I use any of the software? Do I need to hire somebody else from the outside to work on the cost?

What is most valuable?

The feature that I have found most valuable is that it is easy to code. You can very easily get a resource to work on that. For example, if we have a big project it's hard to get a good resource in the IT industry. However, since SQL Server is the most popular solution, you can easily get resources to use it so the risk factors are very, very low. Even if someone leaves the company, you can easily replace them.

Additionally, it is very stable. 

You don't need to struggle for anything. Most of the codes are there.

What needs improvement?

In terms of what could be improved, everything on-premises is now moving to the cloud. Obviously SQL Server has also moved because Microsoft has its own cloud called Azure SQL and azure synapse. Every solution comes with its own advantages and disadvantages. Each cloud has its own way to maintain resources and that plays a major role. But I would say that Azure Clouds are easy to work as compared to others. To  Performance-wise it's still not as good as on-premises, but it is easy to work with. For example, if you are familiar with the SQL server then you don't need to put any effort to work on the Azure SQL or Azure Synapse. Your efficiency will not decrease and you can easily manage any projects. Its advantage is that it is very similar. Apart from that, if you moving to any other Warehouse like Snowflake, redshift with existing SQL server resources is a little difficult and organizations need to spend money on their training. Which increases cost. 

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using SQL Server for almost 10 years.

We just use the on-premises SQL because we have our own server, and we use it on that.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It is stable.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

SQL Server is scalable. We started with one hundred data points and now we have up to 1500, it's scalable. You just need to install the new version every time it comes out with a new capability, such as SQL Server 2019 where you can do multiple things.

If I'm talking about the on-premises maintenance requirement, we need a DBA for that if the SQL maintenance is required. But if you move to the cloud this is automatically done by Microsoft itself. however, this still requires some maintenance though.

How are customer service and technical support?

Microsoft has one of the best supports. They are highly enlightened. It is a very mature product. Even if many times I feel I can do it myself, I choose to reach out to the support team because they have a large number of users and they outsource. You are definitely going to get the outcome you want.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

It's hard to tell the exact reason of switching. As I told earlier, Choosing DB cannot be measured only on the performance of the Database. Multiple points need to be considered.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup is straightforward. Again, it's a mature solution, so it is very straightforward. You don't need to worry about that.

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 saves us to writing code in Azure function. 

At last in my view, you need to evaluate what exactly you are looking for and what type of resource do you have and what is the growth rate of your data. Do you have a direct partner with Microsoft? All things are interrelated and the decision has to depend on these.

On a scale of one to ten, I would rate SQL Server a Seven.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

Private Cloud

If public cloud, private cloud, or hybrid cloud, which cloud provider do you use?

Microsoft Azure
Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner
DG
Information Systems Manager at a aerospace/defense firm with 51-200 employees
Real User
Top 10
A scalable and easy-to-deploy solution that secures our data, saves time, and just runs

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 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.

How has it helped my organization?

It saves time. Our data is also a lot more secure. Prior to SQL Server, things were run in a flat-file database that required a ton more maintenance to keep it running. SQL Server is pretty much bulletproof. It just runs.

What is most valuable?

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.

What needs improvement?

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.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using this solution for 12 years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It is pretty much bulletproof. We never had data corruption and database failure. We've had hardware failures, but that's not the fault of the software.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

It is very scalable, and you don't run into indexing issues like you would with a flat file. I don't think we've even scratched the surface in terms of its capabilities. Our databases are fairly small in comparison to others in our industry who are using the same software. 

We've got about 40 users using it, and primarily, they don't touch the database directly. They're just using it through ERP and our document management system. They are just non-IT employees. They are office users.

We're using it fairly extensively for the core of our business software, and we will likely increase the usage of it. We've got some projects in the hopper that will take advantage of SQL Server. So, we plan on increasing our usage of it.

How are customer service and technical support?

I didn't have the need to contact Microsoft support.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

We haven't used any other solution prior to SQL Server. It was just a flat-file.

How was the initial setup?

It was pretty straightforward. It basically walks you through the process. It took a couple of hours.

What about the implementation team?

Initially, we used a consultant to set up our ERP system, but that was 12 years ago. Since then, we've upgraded it several times, and that was done in-house. Our experience with the consultant was overall positive.

For its maintenance, we are a department of two.

What was our ROI?

We have definitely seen a return on investment when it comes to SQL Server.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

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.

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.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises
Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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