6 Pros and Cons of Using SQL (and 2 Tips for Getting it Right)


When it comes to database languages, there are a lot of options out there, but few can claim to be as ubiquitous as SQL.

If you’re planning to implement your own storage or server solution, and you’re not sure if SQL is right for you, consider the following advantages and downsides that it brings to the table, as well as the routes you can take to make the most of it.

Pros

There are plenty of perks to picking SQL for your database, including:

Simplicity & standardization of language

While SQL is a programming language, it’s not as complex as some forms of code, thanks to the use of standard English syntax, and a set of agreed-upon keywords and commands which are consistent across every solution that uses it.

Obviously, if you’re looking for a non-relational database setup, a different approach is needed, but for straightforward data storage and transformation, SQL ticks all the boxes.

Automatic database performance analysis

Because it is so widely used and understood, there are tons of tools out there to optimize and oversee your SQL server, such as the database performance analyzer from SolarWinds.

The best part of these services is that they can carry out performance analysis and alert you to anomalies automatically. This makes troubleshooting a breeze, and also helps with everything from hardware procurement planning to breach detection.

Speed of operation

SQL is built to be efficient, even when handling large volumes of data, so if you need to collect, store and manipulate a lot of information from moment to moment, it won’t struggle even if your infrastructure is very large.

Cons

There are a handful of problems that are part and parcel of using SQL, such as:

Pricing of premium packages

If you’re planning to use an enterprise-grade SQL-based database platform, you’ll have to pay for the privilege. There are open-source options out there as well, but they lack the functionality and support of their premium counterparts.

Concerns over security

Over the years SQL databases have been used as a point of entry for hackers looking for backdoors into mission-critical business systems. This means you need to be eternally vigilant for attacks, and invest enough in security to minimize the risks.

Issues with the initial learning curve

While it may be a comparatively simple programming language to learn, SQL also suffers from having a steep learning curve at first. This is partly a result of the superficial complexity of query structures, and the possibility for a lot of variety in the way that certain actions are completed.

Getting SQL right

There are a couple of things you need to do to make the most of SQL, the first among which is to learn the language thoroughly yourself or alternatively employ someone who is already well versed in it to do the heavy lifting for you.

The second is to make sure that when you do implement a database of this kind, it’s done with a view to making monitoring and maintenance a priority.

As mentioned, you can automate the majority of the day-to-day processes required to oversee the smooth running of a SQL server, so there’s little excuse to neglect this duty. And it’s better to stay on top of the troubleshooting, rather than let issues brew in the background, only to burst out and cause serious disruption in the future.

With all this taken into account, you’re ready to start your journey towards actually implementing an SQL solution of your own, whatever shape that might take.

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