Many organizations choose to standardize on Microsoft Windows as their only (or primary) operating system because they then don't have to worry about supporting multiple operating system environments. SQL Server might also be chosen by organizations who would like to have only one vendor to call for both operating system and database issues to minimize the finger-pointing that can occur among vendors if a problem occurs. Microsoft has a tremendous presence in the technology channel, and tens of thousands of individuals are trained and certified on various versions of the SQL Server product. This fact ensures that if an organization opts for SQL Server, there are many potential sources of support in addition to those offered by Microsoft.
There is great job demand for those with Microsoft SQL Server expertise. As with other popular database servers, searching popular career listing sites on the Web resulted in more than 1000 opportunities for those with a background in the product. Microsoft SQL Server is also popular in the e-commerce world, with many Windows NT-based Web hosting sites also offering access to it as part of their site hosting packages. SQL Server is likely to be found in organizations of any size, from small retail organizations to large manufacturing operations. So, if you are particularly interested in working with smaller firms, SQL Server might be a good platform choice for you.
Additionally, many SQL Server skills are transferable to the Sybase database server environment because both were originally based on the same product. So, even though Microsoft SQL Server is limited to use on Windows platforms, the skill set you acquire while working with the product is valuable in Sybase-based projects as well. This can be seen in career listings involving Sybase database environments, which include Microsoft SQL Server as relevant experience. As with other top-tier databases in this expanding market, Microsoft SQL Server's popularity continues to grow, and there is expected to be great demand for SQL Server professionals well into the future.
Training Options and Resources
Microsoft's certification programs are among the most well known in the technology world. They have been offering certification on SQL Server since version 4 and are now up to version 7 (SQL Server 2000 is available, but training and certification opportunities for it are not yet available). Due to the popularity of the SQL Server platform and Microsoft certifications in the industry, there are an incredible number of resources available from Microsoft as well as third-party vendors to assist you in gaining SQL Server certification.
Courses and Certifications
Currently Microsoft has great popularity in the realm of certification. SQL 7 has done very well, and SQL 2000 shows great promise in extending this popularity to a scale that should make Oracle and DB2 nervous.
For SQL Server 7 certification, Microsoft offers System Administration and Database Design exams, which test relational database concepts and SQL knowledge as well as significant SQL Server specific knowledge. Passing either exam earns you the status of Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP). These exams also count as credit toward the Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (MCSE), Microsoft Certified Solution Developer (MCSD), and Microsoft Certified DBA (MCDBA) designations, which are advanced certification programs that require passing a series of exams. The MCDBA certification requires passing Windows-related exams as well as database exams, ensuring that an MCDBA can administer both SQL Server and the Windows NT (or 2000) server system on which it runs. See www.tnicrosoft.com/mcp for more information.
Many companies offer online study materials for SQL Server certification exams. For a sampling of available resources, check out www.microsoft.com/ seminar/1033/SQL7Overview/portal.htm, which contains an overview of SQL Server from Microsoft.
As with most technology training, self-study is a viable option for those who cannot, for one reason or another, attend formal classes. A trial version of Microsoft SQL Server can be downloaded from Microsoft's Web site as www.microsoft.com/sql.There are many, many Microsoft SQL Server books available covering beginning to advanced topics. Also available are other books specifically aimed at the Administration and Design exams. Additionally, there is a tremendous amount of SQL Server information available on the Web.
The following sections provide you with some additional information about database administration and design, including related terminology, books, and newsgroups.
There are dozens of books available on topics related to SQL Server, including administration, programming, database design, performance tuning, specific certification exams, and so on. Most SQL Server books are aimed at the beginning to intermediate level user, so you should find many titles of interest when browsing your local bookstore. The following sections list some titles to get you started.
Beginner Book Titles
Wynkoop, Stephen. Special Edition Using Microsoft SQL Server 7.0. Que Education and Training, 1999. ISBN 0789715236.
Bjeletich, Sharon, Greg Mable, and David W. Solomon. Microsoft SQL Server 7.0 Unleashed. MacMillan, 1999. ISBN 0672312271.
Robinson, William. Tmr/i Yourself Microsoft SQL Server 7 in 10 Minutes. Sams,1999. ISBN 0672316633.
Henderson, KennethW. Tlie Guru's Guide toTransact-SQL. Addison-Wesley,2000. ISBN 0201615762.
Viera, Robert. Professional SQL Server 7.0 Programming. Wrox Press Inc, 1999. ISBN 1861002319.
Siebold, Dianne. Visual Basic Developer's Guide to SQL Server. Sybex, 2000. ISBN 0782126790.
Deluca, Steve Adrien, Marcilina S. Garcia,Jamie Reding, and Edward Whalen. Microsoft SQL Server 7.0 Performance Tuning Technical Reference. Microsoft Press, 2000. ISBN 0735609098.
Soukup, Ron, and Kalen Delaney. Inside Microsoft SQL Server 7.0. Microsoft Press, 1999. ISBN 0735605173.