Practical SQL Server
The Value of a Good SQL Server Book

The Value of a Good SQL Server Book

Kalen Delaney and I go back over a decade. Only, she doesn’t know that.

In 2000—after teaching myself *cough* Access *cough* and then teaching myself some very rudimentary aspects of SQL Server—I interviewed for a job a [1]. As part of that interview, I was asked where I saw myself in another 10 years. To which I responded that within 10 years I saw myself as being a SQL guru—someone who know all about the best way to query things, design databases, make them fast, and keep them running.

Related: Why Learn About SQL Server Internals? turned out to be quite a ride for me—even if we were using MySQL (and dabbling in Oracle a bit). But, I eventually left and got to get back to something that had really caught my attention early on: SQL Server.

And, it was about this time that I bumped into a book that changed my life forever.

Inside SQL Server 2000 – by Kalen Delaney

Simply stated, this book blew my mind. Not only was it so INSANELY chocked-full of everything my eager little mind thought it could EVER learn about SQL Server, but it was so insanely well written and so approachable that I began thinking that not only could I eventually use this book to become the 'SQL Server badass' that I wanted to be, but it made me rethink an age-old dream I'd always held out about possibly being a writer. (Something I really started to lose hope in when I switched gears away from my degree in Near Eastern Studies (i.e., culture, history, and language—where there are lots of, compelling, well written materials) — and started working with, well, stale, stogy, tech books that seemed like they were all too commonly written for people who already knew what was being explained.)

In short, Kalen's book fed my passions, mind, and career like crazy. Nearly 14 years later, I think I know a lot more about SQL Server, I write an awful lot, but I still feel like I have a long way to go. But, in hindsight, I've come a very long way and I'd be remiss if I did not hold up "Inside SQL Server 2000" as being a key component of my success and fuel for my ambitions.

Microsoft SQL Server 2012 Internals

Fortunately, Kalen didn't just write "Inside SQL Server 2000." Through the years ,she's applied her same, nearly absurd, understanding of SQL Server internals to books on SQL Server 2005 and SQL Server 2008 ("Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Internals").Microsoft SQL Server 2012 Internals book cover

Recently, she (along with several equally brilliant) co-authors have released "Microsoft SQL Server 2012 Internals" as a successor volume to the same great tradition started by "Inside SQL Server 2000."

I’m currently, slowly, making my way through it.

In fact, I’ve just barely finished chapter 2, jumped ahead and read a bunch of chapter 6, a bit of chapter 13, and plan on finishing the rest of the book … sometime.

Overall, though, what I've found, is yet another insanely good resource that's well worth the money if you're interested in learning gobs about SQL Server.

I've learned a lot about SQL Server in the past 14 years—and continue to learn more about it every day as I troubleshoot tons of problems and issues for clients on a regular basis, keep tabs on various blog posts or articles, and read a large amount of books.

But, to me, the biggest and nicest thing about "Microsoft SQL Server 2012 Internals" is that while I think I have a good handle and 'know' roughly 80-90 percent of  what's being covered in each chapter [2], there's also a good more than10 percent of things that are new to me (or that I've forgotten I ever knew). Yet, even with the stuff I have a good 'handle on' and 'know' pretty well, it's still super nice to see it so concisely and well documented and explained. And, more importantly: so easily understood and approachable.

Ultimately, if you're interested in learning more about SQL Server and like to read, then you simply can't go wrong. In fact, I'm betting that if you're really interested in learning about SQL Server, this book could drastically alter your career plans (for the better).

Learn more about SQL Server from Kalen Delaney.


[1] At the time, was the epitome of an ‘internet startup’ prior to the bubble. Eventually, I was hired to be part of the data team—a small group of folks who kept’s MySQL Servers humming and collecting analytics data for a product called ‘SuperStats’ – which would later become Omniture.

[2] Amazingly, I managed to find a 'mistake' in the book. It's in Chapter 1—which is kind of ‘fluffy’ in that it's primarily an overview of what will be covered in subsequent chapters (meaning that it's not really part of the true 'internals' stuff). Nonetheless, in the section on setting server options—specifically the setting for backup compression, the book states that while SQL Server 2008 introduced backup compression, "only Enterprise edition instances can create a compressed backup"—which actually isn’t totally true. Because with SQL Server 2008R2, Standard Edition picked up the ability to created compressed backups as well-meaning that SQL Server 2008 R2 Standard Edition and SQL Server 2012 Standard Edition can create compressed backups. Technically, the book is correct in what it states—it's just that there’s a bit MORE that could be stated on the subject. 

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