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Introduction to SQL


Today, we take a look at what SQL is and describe its major features and benefits. This is chapter one of McGraw-Hill/Osborne's SQL: The Complete Reference (ISBN 0-07-222559-9, 2004) by James R. Groff and Paul N. Weinberg.

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By: McGraw-Hill/Osborne
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May 17, 2004
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
  1. · Introduction to SQL
  2. · The SQL Language
  3. · The Role of SQL
  4. · SQL Features and Benefits
  5. · SQL Features and Benefits 2
  6. · SQL Features and Benefits 3
  7. · SQL Features and Benefits 4
  8. · SQL Features and Benefits 5

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Introduction to SQL - SQL Features and Benefits 4
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Enterprise Application Support

The largest enterprise applications that support the daily operation of large companies and organizations all use SQL-based databases to store and organize their data. Data about business transactions (orders, sales amounts, customers, inventory levels, payment amounts, etc.) tends to have a structured, records-and-fields format, which converts easily into the row/column format of SQL. By constructing their applications to use enterprise-class SQL databases, major application vendors eliminate the need to develop their own data management software and can benefit from existing tools and programming skills. Because every major enterprise application requires a SQL-based database for its operation, new sales of enterprise applications automatically generate “drag-along” demand for new copies of database software.

Extensibility and Object Technology

The major challenge to SQL’s continued dominance as a database standard has come from the emergence of object-based programming, and the introduction of object-based databases as an extension of the broad market trend toward object-based technology.  SQL-based database vendors have responded to this challenge by slowly expanding and enhancing SQL to include object features. These “object/relational” databases, which continue to be based on SQL, have emerged as a more popular alternative to “pure object” databases and have perpetuated SQL’s dominance through the last decade. The newest wave of object technology, embodied in the XML standard and web services architectures, has once again created a crop of “XML databases” and alternative query languages to challenge SQL. Previous history tends to suggest that XML-based extensions to SQL and the relational model will once again meet this challenge and insure SQL’s continuing importance.

Internet Database Access

With the exploding popularity of the Internet and the World Wide Web, and their standards-based foundation, SQL found a new role in the late 1990s as an Internet data access standard. Early in the development of the Web, developers needed a way to retrieve and present database information on web pages and used SQL as a common language for database gateways. More recently, the emergence of three-tiered Internet architectures with distinct thin client, application server and database server layers, has established SQL as the standard link between the application and database tiers. In the future, the role of SQL in the Internet will extend beyond web site architectures to include data management for collaborating applications and distributed objects in a web services architecture. 

Remember: this is chapter one of SQL: The Complete Reference, by Groff and Weinberg (McGraw-Hill/Osborne, ISBN 0-07-222559, 2004). You can find this and many other fine McGraw-Hill Osborne books at your favorite bookstores. Buy this book now.


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