The 99 Flavours of SQL Server are all Vanilla

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There are so many options for running SQL Server now. It can feel a little intimidating.

You’ve spent years gaining experience with SQL running on Windows Server. On bare metal or in a VM. Locally or in a data centre.

Now people are talking about SQL on Linux. SQL on VMs in the cloud. SQL Server Platform as a Service (PaaS) offering such as Azure SQL DB, Azure Managed Instance, or Amazon RDS.

Running SQL in a container on Docker or Kubernetes.

It’s easy to feel like you’re at risk of getting left behind. Feel like you’ve got to start learning from the beginning all over again.

The good news is that whatever the flavour – it’s still SQL Server. For everything that’s different there are a hundred things that are still the same.

Database design, writing and executing queries and stored procedures – it’s still the same.

Query tuning, indexing, looking at execution plans. All the same.

Even administration, many of the core concepts are the same, understanding how security works, backups, high-availability. The main difference is often that some of these might be taken care of for you and you don’t need to worry about them any more.

Caveat – you still need to worry about them a bit!

The point is, most of what you already know, the experience you have gained over the years, is still totally valid. Learning about SQL Server on a new platform may feel like a big learning curve, but in reality, the new stuff you need to get to grips with is small compared to all the stuff you already know.

And in some cases, the skills you already have become even more valuable. People might not care if your query tuning on physical kit takes your CPU down from 50% to 10%. But tell them you’ve just reduced their cloud bill by 80% and they really care!

So don’t be intimidated, and don’t feel you need to learn every flavour. Have a play with SQL Server in the cloud, have a play with containers, set up SQL on Linux. You’ll quickly find it’s not that hard, and once it’s running – it’s pretty much the same as ever.

And remember, if someone comes to you with a question about why SQL is running slow, or why a query isn’t doing what they want – on RDS, Docker, Linux, or whatever. You don’t need to know that platform inside out to be able to help, you already know SQL Server and that’s the important bit.

To paraphrase a popular lyric :

If you’ve got SQL problems I can help you son. I’ve got 99 problems but SQL aint one.

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