Using SQL Database Servers
SQL database servers are used by both businesses and individuals who are running large websites since they provide them with a scalable database hosting solution that is more reliable than any other form of database server such as desktop database systems. Different SQL database servers are available for different operating system platforms meaning that whatever operating system your servers may be based on, there will be an SQL database server available that you will be able to use. SQL databases servers can also be integrated with server side scripts and web pages to create dynamic websites, but again the SQL database server that you are able to use will be dependent on the scripting language that you will be using for your website. Some SQL servers are free whilst you may find that you have to pay for others, and the ones that you do have to pay for can be very expensive. Of course, whether you choose a free database server or decide to buy one, you will of course be governed by how much money you have to spend. Using an SQL database server is fairly easy due to the fact that many can now be managed using easy-to-use desktop management applications; this also means that you don’t necessarily need any such qualifications in order to manage an SQL database server, but having a fair amount of knowledge is a good idea.
The main SQL database servers that are used by web hosting providers and web developers includes MySQL for PHP web developers and Microsoft SQL Server for classic ASP and ASP.NET developers. MySQL is a database server that can be run on both Linux and Windows web hosting servers, allowing it to be offered on both Linux and Windows web hosting packages; Microsoft SQL Server on the other hand is a Microsoft product therefore meaning that it will only run on Windows based operating systems and can only be offered on Windows web hosting packages.
SQL database servers can provide you with many advantages when it comes to how you are able to use them since their architecture allows them to be deployed in multiple scenarios. Since they provide users with a more scalable solution than other forms of database can offer such as desktop database systems. Although there are different SQL database products around, they all serve the same purpose at the core but can be used in different scenarios and in conjunction with other different products. You can usually use an SQL database on any form of web hosting package that you purchase; for example, at least one MySQL database is provided with Linux web hosting services and one Microsoft SQL Server database is normally included with Windows web hosting services. The use of SQL databases is actively encouraged over desktop database solutions since SQL servers tend to be more reliable as well as more secure. The main advantages that you may find would include:
- scalability – by using SQL database servers you are able to ensure that as your website expands over time, your database will be able to expand at the same time – however, unlike with desktop database systems, you will be safe in the knowledge that as your database expands there will be no impact on the performance of either your database or website which means that you can allow your website to grow as much as you like, but you may have to upgrade to a VPS or dedicated server at some point in time
- security – although you can apply a password to databases that have been created using desktop database systems such as Microsoft Access, this is the only layer of security to prevent your database from being hacked – with SQL server databases a separate username and password are needed in order to gain access to any database that is being hosted on the server, and even then the actions of certain user accounts can be limited as to prevent any serious damage or data loss if a database does happen to be compromised in one way or another
- uses – because SQL databases are much more complicated than databases produced using desktop database systems, they can be used in many different scenarios because of the use of the complex SQL syntax – this means that as well as the handling of databases and the records which they contain, stored procedures amongst other features can also be used to help with the process of executing complicated SQL queries.
Using SQL database servers does require a certain amount of knowledge, especially with SQL syntax, since you want to be able to execute SQL queries against your database, but you should also try and make use of advanced features such as stored procedures that will improve your websites overall performance. At least one SQL database is provided with most web hosting packages meaning that you can always use that one database to test out SQL databases; you can also install SQL database servers locally on your computer for development and testing purposes.
There can be disadvantages to using SQL database servers as well. Although they may be able to give you that extra reliability that you may be after for your website, you have to monitor the servers themselves to ensure that they don’t crash since this could also affect any websites that you have running off databases hosted on that server. You as the end user will also require a certain level of knowledge since managing SQL databases isn’t as plain sailing as you may think it to be; having the necessary skills to manage SQL databases aren’t hard to learn, especially since there are many resourceful tutorials websites that contain guides and good collections of information that will teach you the necessary basic skills that will allow you to manage SQL databases. When it comes down to the management of the actual SQL database daemon and server you needn’t worry since unless you have a VPS or dedicated server, this is one task that is normally handelled by your web hosting provider. In summary, the main disadvantages that you may face with the use of SQL database servers include:
- extra skills – as an end user or server administrator, you may find that you will have to go on extra courses or teach yourself basic SQL syntax so that you are able to execute your own SQL queries against any databases that you create, but this will also aid you in the management of your databases as it will allow you take advantage of the more advanced features that come with many database servers which you may not necessarily use under normal cirumstances – however, at the end of the day, if you make use of other such features then you may be able to boost the reliability and speed of your website
- extra security and infrastructure – as a web hosting provider you may find that you have to invest extra money into your network and server infrastructure to ensure that it is as secure as possible so that you are able to deter any potential attackers from trying to gain access to your SQL database servers – for example, although you may alreayd have software firewalls installed on your database servers, you may find it beneficial to also have external hardware firewalls to aid in the security of your servers
- deployment costs – depending on the SQL server that you are looking to deploy across your web hosting servers, you may find that you have to pay license fees in order to have the right to use the software – for example, you will have to pay a license fee if you wish to use Microsoft SQL Server Standard or Enterprise Editions on your Windows web hosting servers, the Express edition however is free to use.
If you have the money to cover the extra costs that are involved in setting up SQL database servers then you may find that using SQL database servers is much more beneficial to your website because of the extra reliability that is provided with using such programs. If you do run a web hosting company then your existing employees may already have enough knowledge to be able to manage SQL database servers to an extent, but if you or your employees don’t have a high enough level of knowledge to do so then you may find yourself having to learn basic SQL management skills so that you can keep your database servers in good shape.
In conlcusion, using SQL database servers is a good idea for any website large or small since it will mean that you can improve the speed at which your website runs but also allows you to ensure that your website will be more reliable for the visitors which it receives. If you don’t have the money to invest in enterprise level SQL database hosting solutions then you can always make use of the freely available SQL database programs that you can then run on either your servers or on your local machine for development and testing purposes.