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21 Mar 2017

What is SQL Server and Why do I Care?

What is SQL?

We’ve been developing business management applications using SQL Server database technology since the turn of the century and, as a result, it can be hard to step back and realise that some of our customers – and prospective customers – aren’t up to speed with key questions such as:

  • What is SQL Server?
  • What version of SQL Server is best for our business?
  • Why on earth would I spend money on upgrading my version of SQL Server?

We made a brief foray into this topic last year, when writing about our hosting solution. This blog post will run through each of the above questions in detail, with the intention of providing you with the information you need in order to make informed decisions on SQL Server and how to get the most out of it in your business, regardless of whether you’re hosting Khaos Control yourself, with a third party, or with us.

What is SQL Server?

SQL (pronounced as either “Sequel” or “ess-que-el” depending on your preference) is the acronym for Structured Query Language. This language allows users and applications to communicate with a database and is, at this point, pretty much the standard when it comes to relational database communication. There are variants; T-SQL, Postgresql, but they all come from the same root.

SQL Server, is Microsoft’s relational database management tool and comes in a variety of flavours, from Express (which is free) through to Enterprise (which is very much not free). Microsoft also release regular updates to SQL Server, generally on a two year rotation – SQL Server 2016 is currently the latest iteration

As a scalable, robust and flexible solution, SQL Server is an excellent solution for a wide range of businesses. Which is why Khaos Control and many other leading business solutions, continue to use it.

What version and edition of SQL Server is best for our business?

Hosting-Khaos-Control
SQL Server comes in four main editions:

  • Express – this is the free edition of SQL Server and is rarely applicable when deploying an ERP solution such as Khaos Control. Performance is deliberately throttled in terms of the number of processors and amount of RAM that SQL Server is allowed to use in this edition. There is also a hard limit on database size of 10GB.
  • Standard – this is the ‘normal’ version of SQL Server that is deployed for SMEs. This edition will scale with you as you grow, with none of the performance throttling or database size limits of Express.
  • Enterprise – this edition of SQL Server is deployed for high priority, mission-critical workloads in major organisations.
  • Developer – for use by software development houses and companies that are developing and testing SQL Server-based applications. You are not permitted to use ‘live’ data with this edition.

In addition to the above, you may also come across the Web Edition of SQL Server. The latest version of SQL Server (2016) does not offer this option, but up until 2014, the Web edition was a low-cost option for website hosts to provide scalable and affordable CMS database management. We have heard of Khaos Control customers being put onto the Web edition of SQL Server by their hosting partners in the past, which is not appropriate, as it breaks Microsoft’s terms and conditions for using the Web Edition. If your Khaos Control database is hosted, then it’s worth checking the edition and version with your provider.

As I hope the bullet points above suggest, the ideal edition of SQL Server for a Khaos Control business is generally Standard.

In terms of the version, there are a number of options. SQL Server was first released back in 1989 and, as a result, there are plenty of old versions still running out there. However, PCI Compliance requires your database solution to be fully supported, which means that you currently have four options:

  • 2008 – mainstream support for this version ended in January 2014. Extended support ends in January 2019.
  • 2012 – mainstream support for this version ends in July 2017. Extended support ends in July 2022.
  • 2014 – mainstream support ends in July 2019. Extended support ends in July 2024.
  • 2016 – mainstream support ends in October 2021. Extended support ends in October 2026.

Data gathered from Microsoft’s Product Lifcycle tool.

Why on earth would I spend money on upgrading my version of SQL Server?

If your business is using Khaos Control, or another ERP solution that depends on SQL Server, then making sure that you’re on an appropriate version and edition for your company is crucial. The performance and security benefits of being on the most recent version of SQL Server that you can be are huge.

From a security perspective, if you’re on a version older than 2008, then you need to upgrade ASAP.

From a performance perspective, if you’re on a version older than 2014, then you will experience real benefits and improvements from upgrading your instance of SQL Server.

As outlined above, if you’re on the Standard edition of SQL Server, in either the 2014 or 2016 version, then there’s nothing for you to do right now, apart from creating yourself a reminder to check in with us before mainstream support ends.

If you’re on 2012 or earlier and / or are running a Web or Express edition of SQL Server, then please contact us immediately. Our team will be happy to help in terms of providing you with information and pricing on upgrading your instance of SQL Server and helping you to get the most out of Khaos Control.

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