What is SQL server? All you need to know!

SQL Server is a powerful relational database management system developed by Microsoft. Discover how it can help you efficiently store, manage, and retrieve large amounts of data. Learn about its features, benefits, and use cases in our comprehensive guide. Get started with SQL Server today and take your data management to the next level.

Updated: 29 Mar, 23 by Susith Nonis 11 Min

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A ton of content is out there, and it is expanding daily. Because of this, we require a SQL server database to organize the data and make it simple for users to access. 

Microsoft created the relational database management system (often known as RDBMS) called SQL Server. It was specifically created with MySQL and Oracle databases in mind. 

SQL Server supports the widely used SQL (Structured Query Language) language. But SQL Server also includes a Microsoft-exclusive dialect of the SQL language known as T-SQL (or Transact-SQL).

SQL Servers offer data storage with excellent performance. They oversee enormous data collection across all networked computers.  

Thanks to its visual interface, features, and tools, SQL Server is perfect for storing all the needed data in relational databases and managing such data without hassles. This is crucial, particularly for websites that allow users to register to log in.

Due to the amenities and services it features, adopting this tool is crucial for businesses. 

SQL Server assists in managing everything, whether you have a customer list, a product catalog, or even a sizable library of multimedia information. Every program or website must operate properly.

In SQL Server, the "Management System" section ensures that databases are stored effectively and that data can be searched for or retrieved as rapidly as possible. 

It also ensures that numerous connections to the same data are correctly managed to prevent issues from arising if two persons simultaneously make the same update.

For over 20 years, SQL Server has only operated in the Windows environment. Microsoft made it available on Linux in 2016. In October 2016, the Windows and Linux-compatible SQL Server 2017 version became generally available.

SQL Server consists of three main parts, which are explained below. 

Protocol layer

Along with a stream, this layer allows three types of client-server architecture.

  • Shared Memory 

The shared memory protocol allows communication between the SQL server and client, which both execute on the same system.

  • TCP/IP 

Even though they are installed on different machines and are remote from one another, this protocol enables communication between the client and the SQL server.

  • Named pipes

The client and SQL server can communicate using this protocol across a local area network (LAN).

  • TDS 

All three protocols use Tabular Data Stream packets. These packets make data transfers between the client and server machines possible.

Relational engine

It also goes by the name "Query Processor," It houses the SQL Server parts that decide precisely what a query needs to perform and the best way to achieve it. 

The relational engine performs user queries by requesting data from the storage engine and then processing the returned results. There are three main parts to the engine:

  • CMD Parser

The primary function of the CMD Parser is to examine the query for semantic and syntactic problems before generating a Query Tree. The first Relational Engine component to accept Query data is the Parser.

  • Optimizer 

The Optimizer uses exhaustive and heuristic algorithms already integrated into the system to reduce query run times and produce an execution strategy. Not the greatest plan, but the cheapest one is discovered by the optimizer.

  • Query Executor 

The Executor develops the execution strategy for the logic involved in data retrieval. 

The outcome is published to the Protocol layer when the Executor receives the data from the Storage Engine. The end-user receives the resulting data after the findings are released.

Storage engine

When necessary, the storage engine pulls the data from a storage system like a disk or SAN.

  • File Formats 

The primary, secondary, and log files are the three files that make up the Storage Engine.

  • Access method 

This element is an interface for the buffer manager, transaction logs, and query executor.

  • Buffer manager

The three modules' essential operations, namely plan cache, data parsing, and dirty pages, are managed by this component. 

  • Transaction manager

When there are non-select transactions, the transaction manager activates and takes control of these transactions by utilizing the Log and Lock Managers.

Depending on the size of the databases and the purposes for which they are to be used, there are many flavours of SQL servers.


This server is designed for massive organizations with intricate needs. The operating system it runs on is the only restriction on the amount of memory and CPU cores that Enterprise Edition can handle for databases up to 524PB (Petabytes - 1000 terabytes).


If your database is reasonably large (10GB or more) or has many connections, you'll probably require this edition. Although its maximum memory is 128GB, it can manage databases up to 524PB.


This version was created as a more affordable method of handling website databases.

Business intelligence

This version is similar to SQL Standard but has more analytical business intelligence capabilities.


Only available up to SQL 2008, the workgroup is designed for use in small businesses.


Small and medium-sized organizations frequently use this edition. Because SQL Express is a free license from Microsoft and only supports databases up to 10GB in size and can only consume 1GB of RAM and 1 CPU core, many applications geared toward small and medium-sized businesses will benefit from it. 

It is a very affordable method of giving small businesses access to a solid and trustworthy database engine.

With distinct logins, ports, databases, and other features for each service, the SQL server enables you to run many services simultaneously. There are two of these:

  • Primary instances
  • Named instances

We have two options for gaining access to the main instance. We can start by using the server name. We can also utilize its IP address. 

Accessing named instances requires adding a backslash before the instance name.

For instance, you should use to connect to an instance with the name xyz on the local server. You can run up to 50 instances of SQL Server concurrently on a server starting with version 2005.

Even though you can run numerous instances on the same server, only one can be the default instance; the others must all have names. 

Each instance operates independently of the others and can all be run simultaneously.

A few different advantages to using SQL servers are discussed below.

Easy installation

Microsoft SQL has a setup wizard and is simple to use. Unlike other database servers that demand complex command-line configurations, SQL Server offers a user-friendly installation interface. 

It has a comprehensible GUI and numerous tutorials in addition to the one-click installation method. 

The installation wizard automatically downloads the needed updates, reducing the need for manual labour. Automatic updates not only lower maintenance costs but also assist in keeping the database up to date with trends. 

Database services and analytical services can later be added independently.

Performance improvement

SQL Server delivers improved performance due to its integrated transparent data compression and encryption technologies. 

Users do not need to change apps to safeguard and encrypt the data. Access restrictions and effective permission management features are provided by SQL Server to help users protect sensitive corporate data.

Various SQL server editions

SQL Server is available in various editions to meet the demands of commercial organizations and local and remote users. 

Features and pricing ranges differ between editions. As a result, businesses can select the version that best suits their operating requirements.

High security

Since the SQL Server database uses complex encryption methods, it is extremely difficult to penetrate the security levels. Commercial relational database SQL Server has extra security features to lower the danger of assaults.

Excellent data recovery and restoration capabilities

Several advanced tools in SQL Server can be used to recover and restore lost or corrupted data. The entire database can be recovered with the aid of sophisticated recovery tools. 

The Database Engine, a key part of the SQL Server, manages data storage and aids in processing user requests and queries, including those involving transactions, files, and indexes. Big businesses frequently use these capabilities of SQL Server.

Reduced ownership costs

The efficient disk partitioning, data mining, and data management tools of SQL servers assist in maintaining critical data and provide storage space for extremely sensitive data.

Maintaining a standby server

A service outage may occur if a SQL Server instance crashes. However, if you have a backup server, you are protected if the primary server goes down. By employing SQL Server instances, this service level is easily attainable.

Minimizing momentary database issues

There is a considerable likelihood of experiencing issues when all services operate on a single SQL Server instance, particularly those that keep coming back. You can avoid such issues if such services run on different instances.

Despite having multiple advantages, SQL servers have some disadvantages too. 

  • Cost: You must spend more on a higher version if you want more advanced features and database software.
  • Restricted compatibility: If you wish to use only a small amount of Microsoft infrastructure, you can invest in extra Microsoft software, but you won't be able to use SQL Server on your platform.
  • Hardware restrictions: If your hardware is older, you may need a newer system because newer versions of SQL servers require sophisticated technology.

SQL Server is software specifically for managing databases; it stores and retrieves information when other hosted applications need it. 

Instead of reinventing the wheel by writing their code to perform the same thing, software developers will frequently employ SQL Server's functionality to look after the databases when creating new business applications which store information in a database. 

As a result, creating database applications is simpler, quicker, and less expensive while increasing their security, scalability, and reliability.

Due to the amenities and services it features, adopting this tool is crucial for businesses. 

SQL Server assists in managing everything, whether you have a customer list, a product catalogue, or even a sizable library of multimedia information. Every program or website must operate properly.

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Susith Nonis

Susith Nonis

I'm fascinated by the IT world and how the 1's and 0's work. While I venture into the world of Technology, I try to share what I know in the simplest way with you. Not a fan of coffee, a travel addict, and a self-accredited 'master chef'.