Microosft SQL Server – An Overview of the Various SQL Server Products, Including Reporting Services

Microsoft’s SQL Server relational database software can seem baffling at first, as you try to get to grips with the various servers and services involved. Here’s a layman’s guide to all of the main components of the product, such as management studio, integration services, analysis services and reporting services.

What is SQL Server (SS)?

SS consists of two parts: the server and the client. The server is the database which contains all of your tables – think of it as the library in which you store information. Clearly without a server you don’t have a database, so it’s vital that the SSservice is running. Typically this will be on your organisation’s network, so you won’t have to worry too much about it. If, however, you’re creating an application on your laptop, you won’t get far if you don’t install SSand make sure the SSdatabase service is running.

The other part of SS is the client, which is called SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS). This is (in our opinion) a ridiculous term for the place in which you write your SQL queries, views and stored procedures. You can think of SSMS as like a librarian, requesting different bits of information (books) from the database (library).

Reporting Services

In addition, SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS) allows you to create reports based on your database, typically containing tables, matrices or charts, and publish these to your server. You can also create subscriptions for reports, whereby they are emailed automatically to chosen people according to a schedule that you specify. SSRS reports are similar to reports in Microsoft Access, but easier to write and more powerful.

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Analysis Services

SQL Server Analysis Services (SSAS) allows you to view your data in different ways. Changing our analogy, if your data is like a Rubik’s cube, SSAS allows you to twist it and view it from different angles; in a way, SSAS is like using an Excel pivot table on steroids. SSAS includes its own language, MDX.

Integration Services

SQL Server Integration Services (SSIS) allows you to transform data (it came out of DTS, or Data Transformation Services, its predecessor). If you want to import data into a database from an Excel spreadsheet, renaming fields along the way, SSIS is your tool.

Those are the main components of SQL Server. Although they are packaged together, you can install and use them separately.