Introduction to SQL Server 2012

SQL Server 2012 Tutorial

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Microsoft SQL Server 2012 is a full-featured relational database management system (RDBMS) that offers a variety of administrative tools to ease the burdens of database development, maintenance, and administration. In this article, we'll cover some of the more frequently used tools: SQL Server Management Studio, SQL Profiler, SQL Server Agent, SQL Server Configuration Manager, SQL Server Integration Services and Books Online.

Let's take a brief look at each:

SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS)

SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS) is the main administrative console for SQL Server installations. It provides you with a graphical "birds-eye" view of all of the SQL Server installations on your network. You can perform high-level administrative functions that affect one or more servers, schedule common maintenance tasks or create and modify the structure of individual databases. You may also use SSMS to issue quick and dirty queries directly against any of your SQL Server databases. Users of earlier versions of SQL Server will recognize that SSMS incorporates the functions previously found in Query Analyzer, Enterprise Manager, and Analysis Manager. Here are some examples of tasks you can perform with SSMS:

  • Set up SQL Server database replication

SQL Profiler

SQL Profiler provides a window into the inner workings of your database. You can monitor many different event types and observe database performance in real time. SQL Profiler allows you to capture and replay system "traces" that log various activities.

It's a great tool for optimizing databases with performance issues or troubleshooting particular problems. As with many SQL Server functions, you can access SQL Profiler through SQL Server Management Studio. For more information, see our tutorial Creating Database Traces with SQL Profiler.​

SQL Server Agent

SQL Server Agent allows you to automate many of the routine administrative tasks that consume database administrator time. You can use SQL Server agent to create jobs that run on a periodic basis, jobs that are triggered by alerts and jobs that are initiated by stored procedures. These jobs may include steps that perform almost any administrative function, including backing up databases, executing operating system commands, running SSIS packages and more. For more information on SQL Server Agent, see our tutorial Automating Database Administration with SQL Server Agent

SQL Server Configuration Manager 

SQL Server Configuration Manager is a snap-in for the Microsoft Management Console (MMC) that allows you to manage the SQL Server services running on your servers. The functions of SQL Server Configuration Manager include starting and stopping services, editing service properties and configuring database network connectivity options.

Some examples of SQL Server Configuration Manager tasks include:

SQL Server Integration Services (SSIS)

SQL Server Integration Services (SSIS) provide an extremely flexible method for importing and exporting data between a Microsoft SQL Server installation and a large variety of other formats. It replaces the Data Transformation Services (DTS) found in earlier versions of SQL Server. For more information on using SSIS, see our tutorial Importing and Exporting Data with SQL Server Integration Services (SSIS).

Books Online

Books online is an often overlooked resource provided with SQL Server that contains answers to a variety of administrative, development and installation issues.

It's a great resource to consult before turning to Google or technical support. You can access SQL Server 2012 Books Online on the Microsoft website or you can also download copies of Books Online documentation to your local systems.

At this point, you should have a good understanding of the basic tools and services associated with Microsoft SQL Server 2012. While SQL Server is a complex, robust database management system, this core knowledge should orient you to the tools available to help database administrators manage their SQL Server installations and point you in the right direction to learn more about the world of SQL Server.

As you continue your SQL Server learning journey, I invite you to explore the many resources available on this site. You'll find tutorials that cover many of the basic administrative tasks performed by SQL Server administrators as well as advice on keeping your SQL Server databases secure, reliable and optimally tuned. You're also invited to join us in the About Databases Forum where many of your colleagues are available to discuss issues about SQL Server or other database platforms.