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What are the biggest uses of SQL today?


What are the biggest uses of SQL today?


Essentially, Structured Query Language (SQL) is used to retrieve data or otherwise interface with a relational database. As a standard going back to the 1970s, SQL is a popular way to get information out of relational database systems. Relational databases are set up with a particular structure – each record has a series of keys that are linked to one another in consistent ways, and placed in a "table" represented visually in a grid.

The SQL language is written to comb the contents of tables in a conventional database. SQL is widely used in business and in other types of database administration. It is the default tool for “operating” on the conventional database, to alter tabled data, retrieve data or otherwise manipulate an existing data set.

Simple SQL commands like SELECT, ORDER BY and INSERT (all of which are typically rendered in all capital letters) help administrators to route data in and out of a database table. This goes on over all sorts of platforms, and is a major part of delivering data results in today’s cloud and hybrid distributed systems. In the API economy, where so many pieces of “middleware” or connecting pieces join parts of an IT architecture, having SQL as a consistent database language has been central to porting data to all of those places that it needs to go. Because of the fairly straightforward syntax and ease of use, administrators can then focus on the theory of database construction and the logistical aspect of getting data into and out of systems.

Over time, an alternative to SQL has emerged called NoSQL. The concept is that data that is not tabled in a relational database may not need SQL as a query language. So the biggest uses of SQL are in a spectrum that might be called “smaller” database systems. Another way to explain this is that SQL does not “scale infinitely.” So by that principle, the SQL is used for traditional DB systems and other methods are used for larger NoSQL database systems where checks on data are not strictly enforced.

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Justin Stoltzfus
Profile Picture of Justin Stoltzfus Justin Stoltzfus is a freelance writer for various Web and print publications. His work has appeared in online magazines including Preservation Online, a project of the National Historic Trust, and many other venues.
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