I.1.1. SQL Server 2008: An Evolution, Not a Revolution

Once upon a time, if you wanted to store information on a computer, you had to write your own low-level, highly specialized program that organized this data and also made it possible to update and retrieve it. This process was very cumbersome, time-consuming, and error-prone. Eventually, a host of specialized companies sprang up to provide standardized, industrial-strength products known as databases. Even behemoths such as IBM joined the party with its own heavyweight, expensive database software products.

A database is a special kind of software application whose main purpose is to help people and programs store, organize, and retrieve information. This feature frees up application developers to focus on the business task at hand, rather than being responsible for supervising the intricacies of data management.

As more time passed, a new breed of database companies arose. With names like Oracle, Informix, and Sybase, these vendors (and many others) developed a particular kind of database, known as a relational database. Relational databases are particularly well designed for storing information in tabular format, which further helped software developers as they built a whole new class of enterprise applications.

Microsoft also entered the relational database fray some years back with the SQL Server database. Once thought of as a relatively lightweight database vendor, Microsoft has continually refined SQL Server to the point ...

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