SQL data? What’s that all about?

Databases and SQL Servers are terms that are very technical, yet most major business software systems rely upon professional data storage.

This means that when things go slow or simply do not work, technical people can seem to pass responsibility between different technical areas – often between different technical teams.

This article tries to bring the idea of databases and how they connect to the network and the end software into more “human talk”.

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A reasonable analogy for this model is that the data can be viewed as books stored within a library (the database). The library is closed and so only a librarian (the SQL Server) may access and manipulate the books (data) directly.

Each user of the software package can be considered to be a researcher sitting at a desk needing to get information from books in the library. These users are not within the library but are in within rooms that are connected to the library by corridors (the network). Multi-user systems simply have multiple research rooms/desks and each makes independent requests to the librarian (SQL Server) for information and instructs the librarian on how to update the information held within the books of the library. The librarian, however, determines the exact processes involved within updates and requests.

With hosted systems the researchers (users) do not reside within the same building as the library. This means they do not have access along the same corridors (networks), so “super-researchers” exist along the network corridor called Thin-Client. Each of these super-researchers gather and make requests to the librarian and feed out the information back to the actual researchers (users) via a video link (another network), responding to requests back from the actual researchers. Each super-researcher (Thin Client Server) handles dozens of actual researchers (users).

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As can be seen from this analogy it is important that all elements work together correctly and any issues that exist along the route between the Library and the actual Researcher, for example a blockage in the corridors (network) will cause severe problems. This network includes the internet, which can have severe blockages (slow connections).

It is often a difficult concept for people to understand, but putting the concepts back to paper-based approaches hopefully makes things a little bit easier.

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