They want me to change to SQL!

By: Marinus Kolkman | 10 Mar 2016

Why, and what is this SQL?

To some, it’s another techno-babble session to be avoided, but it needn’t be. With this explanation, I will shed some understandable light on what the fuss is all about!

A database is simply an organized way to store information. The way data is added and especially the way it is retrieved makes all the difference. Understanding the differences between the question-and-answer systems is key to making the decision to upgrade.

Historically, in older (I hate that word!) systems like Microsoft Access Database, or MDB, it’s “asking” the database to give back information that creates a roadblock. Your data sits in a flat file like a spreadsheet: rows and rows of information arranged in hundreds of columns. Everything stays in the order in which it is entered. As it grows, it takes longer and longer to write to it, and to get an answer when you look for something.

The system always starts at row one, column one, with every single request. The data is mostly stored on the hard drive and needs to be extracted every time – a lot like wrapping up the fish and chips, unwrapping to get a bite, rewrapping, unwrapping to get another… on and on!

It is a one-way system with all users who ask it something lined up at the door and taken in order. Add to this, with Digital Imaging and Clinical Charting now built in, the whole process of posting data and standing in line to get data becomes unmanageable. There’s huge potential for corruption and data loss as the volume of data and number of users increase!

SQL stands for Sequential Query Language and offers big advantages over this process. I describe it as a “You asked – here it is” system. That’s because it is built to handle millions of records – not thousands, like MDB. The data is “indexed” in individual places and stored mostly in RAM for near-instant retrieval. An SQL system can manage far more add-on programs: Digital Radiography, Imaging, Clinical Charting, Portal and future enhancements all rely on the power of SQL. Backup, restoration and repair are all far more dependable than MDB; with SQL, security and PIPEDA compliance are taken to a whole new level.

My advice? SQL is worth the investment. It will bring real value to the long-term profitability of your business. Consider this analogy: Where an MDB database is a one-lane highway with alternating traffic, first in then out, SQL is a multi-lane expressway literally responding to hundreds of “what do you want” queries simultaneously.

Where would you prefer to drive?

 

by Marinus Kolkman, Senior Technology Specialist iNETtechnologies Inc.

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