SQL Standard Vs. SQL Enterprise

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Databases are used for storing and retrieving information, and a relational database will store data in tables with rows of data made up of different fields. Databases are used as the data source for many applications, including most dynamic websites. Microsoft SQL Server was introduced in 1988 for the IBM OS/2 operating system. Newer versions include many features for application developers, database administrators and end users. Microsoft SQL Server 2008 is available in two versions: standard edition and enterprise edition. Competing products from other vendors include Oracle 10g, IBM DB2, Sybase and MySQL.

Performance/Availability

  • Enterprise edition is geared toward higher loads with a need for greater resources than the standard edition. SQL Server Enterprise edition will use the maximum number of central processor units (CPUs), while the standard edition can only use four CPUs. Enterprise edition will support the I64 computer architecture that is used in servers designed for extremely heavy loads. The standard edition supports single threaded database consistency checks and indexing, while the enterprise edition will allow parallel processing for greater speed.

High Availability

  • Critical systems depend on the data source for almost all transactions, so being available is essential. The enterprise edition allows a 16 node fail over cluster versus the two node for the standard edition (a fail over cluster is a grouping of machines that can take over the processes of a computer that fails). The greater quantity of nodes reduces the probability of an outage. Database snapshots and fast recovery are methods not available in the standard edition to ensure safety of data and rapid restoration of service.

Data Warehousing

  • Data warehousing is the storage of electronic records for analysis and reporting. These functions are only available in the enterprise edition. Parallelism allows the quicker access and retrieval of data. Star join queries are a cornerstone of the data warehousing concept and are now supported. The star join query, or star schema as it is often referred to, is the simplest schema for data warehousing.

Business Intelligence

  • Business intelligence is the act of using data to make decisions within the organization. This is only available in the enterprise edition. The feature set for business intelligence, or "BI," is broken into four categories: analysis, reporting, data mining and integration services. The analysis features include cubes, perspectives and account intelligence. Cubes are used in data warehousing to represent multidimensional data in a logical manner. A perspective provides the user a different way to view the data in a cube. Account intelligence is the mapping of data into distinct types such as liability, flow, asset, expense or statistical. Reporting services includes a report builder and integration with Microsoft Office. Integration includes import and export of SQL Server.

Security/Manageability

  • The standard edition includes a limited set of encryption and auditing functions. The enterprise edition includes transparent encryption and third party key management. These are required for advanced encryption and management of encrypted data. The standard edition provides many tools for managing one or more SQL Servers, while the enterprise edition does include mirrored backup media--a useful functionality for keeping data off site and ready for immediate use.

Considerations

  • Microsoft recommends the standard edition for "departmental applications." If the application or website is critical to the well-being of the organization, it is a safe bet to use the enterprise edition. Applications that are not considered to be complex and are less critical are good candidates for the standard version.

References

  • Photo Credit Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of gnizr
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