Chapter 2. SQL Server Fundamentals

Where does SQL Server fit in the grand scheme of business applications? At one time, this was a simple question with a simple answer. Today, SQL Server is at the core of many different types of applications and business solutions large and small. The new generation of servers and operating systems blend file storage and document and data management in a seamless, uniform approach—and at the core of all this technology is SQL Server. Under the hood, this is not the same SQL Server as it was in years past. SQL Server 2005 and SQL Server 2008 are complex, multipurpose data storage engines, capable of doing some very sophisticated things. This new-and-improved SQL Server can manage complex binary streams, hierarchies, cubes, files, and folders in addition to text, numbers, and other simple data types.

For the purposes of this book, we're concerned only with using SQL Server to store and manage relational data. This is what it was designed for years ago—and what it does even better today. However, SQL Server can also be used to store and manage application objects in the form of XML. The addition of native XML storage to SQL Server has opened up many doors and possibilities.

Who Uses SQL Server?

Not very long ago, enterprise databases were hidden away on large servers that were never visible to the casual business computer user. Any interaction with these systems was performed only by members of the elite order of database administrators and data developers. ...

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