What is it?
SQL Server is a database engine used to store data. Unlike Microsoft Access
(which can also store data), it does not come with tools to input or display
data. That is done via web pages LINK that connect to the database or a program
written using a program like Visual Studio by a developer that connects to the
What does it do?
The SQL Server program can run many databases. Perhaps one department of your
company needs a database for their purposes only. A different department also
needs one for a completely different purpose that has nothing to do with the
It's possible you already have it without realising it! SQL Server comes with
different versions of Windows Server.
There are different versions:
- The Enterprise version is aimed at large companies that need to run many
databases. As you can imagine, its price is large too!
- Standard version is for small to medium sized companies. It has a medium sized
- Express version has some limitations. These may not affect you even in the
largest of companies.
The best bit is that this is free!
What do we do with it for you?
- Install it and set it up.
- Create databases!
- Host a database for you.
- Normally we also create the tools for you to interact with it too. Be they web
sites, Access front ends or Windows applications.
There is now an alternative to running your own SQL Server software, which is to
let Microsoft run it for you!
In order to run the SQL Server software locally you may need to;
- buy a machine to run it on,
- have somewhere to keep it (they're often noisy as they need cooling),
- buy Windows Server software,
- buy SQL Server.
All of which could be quite expensive.
- You will also need to back it up and have the expertise to restore it.
- If you have a Windows application or Access front end at different sites that
need to connect to the database you will need to set up your network to allow
SQL Azure Database does away with these problems as it runs in Microsoft's data centres.
Your front end programs are pointed to your SQL Azure Database database not your internal
one. Of course there are things you need to consider:
- Your data is no longer held within your building.
- All reading and writing of data will go over the internet, so your existing
internet connection may not be fast enough to cope.
- At the moment there are a few things that the Azure version cannot do compared
to the locally installed version.
But probably the biggest advantage is cost. The pricing starts at £6 per month. Yes it's not a typo - six pounds per
We have one customer running out of three sites with an Access front end and
about ten users. They are very happy with it.
Microsoft Azure site has more information, but it can be
overwhelming as it's pretty technical!
See also SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS)