Category Archives: SQL Server

Book Review – SQL Server 2012 Pocket Consultant by William Stanek; O’Reilly Media

William Stanek has written a book to give everyone a quick reference guide for most of the common tasks you’ll do in SQL Server 2012. While a lot of this may be a review for those who are experienced, there are enough changes and new content that is well summarized that this could be a valuable reference for anyone who works with SQL Server 2012.

O’Reilly provides a quick description of this book that says “This pocket-sized guide delivers ready answers for administering SQL Server. Zero in on core support and maintenance tasks using quick-reference tables, instructions, and lists that help you save time and get the job done!” That’s a pretty good description. If you want to completely learn SQL Server, this is not the correct resource for you. However, if you need to administer SQL Server and need a quick reference for the tasks you’ll do regularly, this is a great resource. William Stanek lays out his reference well with tables, code samples, and the quick reasons why you might choose one setting over another.

I appreciated the various examples within each section showing the graphical way to manage your server as well as the SQL and sometimes even PowerShell code to do the same things. William takes care to explain why some settings and choices should be avoided in the sidebars. Those sorts of warnings are great for people who are new to SQL Server or database servers in general. While I’ve worked with SQL Server for many years, I found that this book covers pretty much everything I would want to know as a SQL Server administrator.

This is a “pocket” reference so space is limited. Anyone looking for a hard-core book on SQL Server internals will want to look elsewhere. Likewise, anyone wanting to learn SQL Server will be better off with another resource. William is targeting those who work with SQL Server as administrators. He covers setup, security, policies, indexing, monitoring, jobs, alerts, backups, and similar topics. These are enough to get you started and avoid major pitfalls. I appreciate that he doesn’t follow the official Microsoft statements completely and offers up real-world observations. For example, when he covers backups, he starts by asking a series of questions and directing people towards different considerations for backups, where to store backups, whether to compress them, how often to consider taking them, and the types available. He doesn’t offer a one-size-fits-all backup strategy, but directs the reader to make the best choices for their shop while showing them how to get the job done.

My one disappointment with the pocket consultant is that it did not touch on Extended Events for monitoring SQL Server. With these poised to start replacing SQL Profiler traces, they’re going to be very important in the near future. I can understand not mentioning other features of SQL Server as they don’t pertain to the core functionality, but this seemed to be a pretty big omission. It doesn’t detract from the rest of the book, but I think it would have been a valuable inclusion.

To summarize, if you’re new to SQL Server or want a handy reference to administer SQL Server 2012, this is a good resource to consider. If you’d like to get more information or buy a copy of the book, please check out its O’Reilly product page.

* I was provided with a complimentary review copy in return for an unbiased review. The opinions written here are my own.

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Filed under Book Review, SQL Server