So how do you search a database? Of course, if the database is small, you can just look through each entry, one by one, searching for the information you require. But of course, that is both time consuming, and simply impossible for a database with any more than just a few rows. So, the realistic answer is to become skilled in the art of database querying, using a language such as SQL (Structured Query Language) or similar.
SQL is the name given to the statements which the user inputs into a DBMS (Database Management System) such as SQL Server, as designed by Microsoft*. The most common statement is the SELECT FROM WHERE statement, which enables you to SELECT your desired columns FROM your chosen table (or tables) WHERE a condition is met. For example, executing:
SELECT name, jobtitle FROM employee WHERE office = ‘London’
would give you the name, and job title columns from the employee table where the employee was situated in the London office. Naturally, that is about as simple as SQL comes, and for those in the know, there are a whole host of different tools which can be utilised within an SQL DBMS.
So how can one become familiar with the full workings of SQL? Perhaps unsurprisingly there are many different websites offering tuition through videos and applications. The author certainly recommends CBT Nuggets, but understandably we all learn in different ways, so finding the right course for yourself is, in many respects, a case of reading through the options and testing various ones out. For those of you who like studying from the printed word, then the ‘Dummies Guide To SQL’ is an invaluable resource guide to the fundamentals of using SQL.
Further to the above though, if one wishes to gain a good understanding of SQL and progress to the point of being certified as a MCSA (Microsoft Certified Systems Administrator), then classroom based courses can prove invaluable. Here at Vision Data Insight we require that all our analysts gain an MCSA in SQL Server, and as such the author attended a week-long course with RobustIT in Essex, UK. RobustIT can be recommended for a variety of IT training solutions, as a professional, welcoming and structured outfit, with the necessary tools and certified professors to enable the student to grasp the necessary skills in an easy manner.
The course begins at 9am on a Monday Morning and with an hour break for lunch lasts until around 5pm, following the same pattern through to Friday Afternoon. The lessons are divided into the three modules required for a 2012/14 MCSA in SQL Server, namely Querying SQL Server, Administrating SQL Server and Implementing a Data Warehouse. The lessons are formed in a combination of lectures and hands-on work in a simulated lab environment on the provided computers. Such simulated, hands-on experience is fundamental to gaining the confidence necessary to be able to use SQL in an effective manner.
Undeniably there is much to learn to become qualified as an MCSA, but such commitment is what is required to become adequately qualified and thus in the best position to analyse, administrate and implement the databases. Here at Vision Data Insight we take a pride in our in-house skill sets, and encourage you to approach us for the very best in Data Analysis, Data Marketing and Business Intelligence work.
*Other examples of DBMS do exist, such as Oracle or MySQL.