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Microsoft Access vs. Microsoft SQL Server

Microsoft Access is a relational database management system (RDBMS) that is packaged with the Microsoft suite of office products to run under the Microsoft Windows operating system. Microsoft Access is a Visual Basic (VB) based application that allows Structured Query Language (SQL) statements to be included in associated macros and VB scripts. Microsoft Access includes a Jet database engine, combined with a graphical interface, to provide ease of use in building front-end database applications. Microsoft Access is a structured environment, used by novice programmers, with little or no experience, to handle relatively small database functions. It is also a useful tool, for advanced developers, to provide rapid application development.

Though MS Access has been successfully front-ended against databases, including itself, Microsoft Access does not scale well for large databases or multiple-access, network environments. The underlying Jet Database is a file-sharing database that performs all processing at the client level. As such, Microsoft Access is not designed for high volume multi-user environments that allow multiple clients to read, write and perform other operations on shared files at the same time.

Microsoft SQL Server is a server level RDBMS that incorporates the industry standard, SQL. SQL Server originated from the enterprise level, Sybase SQL Server, developed for mainframe operating systems, such as Unix and VAX VMS. The client-server interaction of SQL Server is more robust than Microsoft Access and is capable to handle high volume multi-user environments. SQL Server is one of Microsoft’s BackOffice servers, designed to handle client/server applications using the industry standard and ANSI compliant SQL. SQL Server is scalable for multiprocessing. It has the ability to reliably perform database functions and data warehousing. SQL Server can be configured to effectively and efficiently accommodate multiple users, 24 X 7, and is ideal for complex and demanding applications such as Web hosting, e-commerce, real time transactions and messaging systems. The client-server configuration allows for the manipulation of large, multiple databases along with the capability to perform multiple and continuous data warehousing functions. It’s uptime and reliability reduces the chance of database corruptions, due to failed read and write operations, as well as data access conflicts.

Microsoft SQL Server is, often at times, confused with MySQL. MySQL is also a server level SQL-based RDBMS. MySQL is owned and developed by a Swedish firm, MySQL AB. MySQL is distributed freely under the GNU general public license (GPL). Unlike typical open-source projects, MySQL is distributed both freely and as a licensed commercial product.

Microsoft also offers a limited version of SQL Server, the Microsoft SQL Server Desktop Engine (MSDE), which is distributed with other Microsoft products, such as Access and FoxPro. The MSDE will be replaced by SQL Server Express, which is available in beta release and offers similar functionality to MSDE.

The current version of SQL Server, SQL Server 2000, provides eight different editions:

  1. SQL Server 2000 Enterprise Edition:
    SQL Server 2000 Enterprise Edition is the most comprehensive of all SQL Server 2000 editions. It provides database management as well as advanced analysis features. It is designed to scale for large web sites, on-line transaction processing and data warehousing.
  2. SQL Server 2000 Standard Edition:
    SQL Server 2000 Standard Edition provides both data management and analysis as a small and medium sized business solutions. It provides essential database management functions in addition to reporting services, which provide database intelligence and analysis services to evaluate data.
  3. SQL Server 2000 Workgroup Edition:
    SQL Server 2000 Workgroup Edition provides core database features to simplify data management at an affordable price. It is designed for small businesses and provides for efficient data warehousing and e-commerce solutions.

The following, five editions, make up the SQL Server 2000 Editions for Special Uses:

  1. SQL Server 2000 Personal Edition:
    SQL Server 2000 Personal Edition provides the capability to locally run applications, that require SQL Server data storage capabilities on a client computer without being connected to a network. The Personal Edition incorporates functionally provided with the Standard Edition, with some exceptions. The Personal Edition can be run on server and non-server operating systems.
  2. SQL Server 2000 Developer Edition:
    SQL Server 2000 Developer Edition allows developers to build applications with the SQL Server. It includes all functionality, provided with the Enterprise Edition, along with a license agreement that prohibits the deployment of developed products. It is the only edition that allows the licensee to download and install the CE Edition as well as distribute an unlimited number of CE based applications to devices.
  3. SQL Server 2000 Evaluation Edition:
    The SQL Server 2000 Evaluation Edition is a time sensitive version of the SQL Server 2000 Enterprise Edition. SQL Server Evaluation provides a 120-day license to be used to demonstrate, examine, test and evaluate the complete set of features available for Server 2000.
  4. SQL Server 2000 Windows CE Edition:
    SQL Server 2000 Windows CE Edition is a compact data management system that extends enterprise level data management to devices. SQL Server CE is the only edition that provides the capability to run RDMS on Windows CE-based devices. This includes mobile and handheld devices such as Handheld PC Pro, Palm-size PC and Pocket PC.
  5. SQL Server 2000 Desktop Engine (MSDE):
    SQL Server 2000 Desktop Engine is a redistributable version of the SQL Sever database engine. It is designed for third party software developers to incorporate in their applications that make use of the SQL Server.