SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS) is the main administrative console for SQL Server installations. It provides you with a graphical "birds-eye" view of all of the SQL Server installations on your network. You can perform high-level administrative functions that affect one or more servers, schedule common maintenance tasks or create and modify the structure of individual databases. You may also use SSMS to issue quick and dirty queries directly against any of your SQL Server databases. Users of earlier versions of SQL Server will recognize that SSMS incorporates the functions previously found in Query Analyzer, Enterprise Manager and Analysis Manager. Here are some examples of tasks you can perform with SSMS:
- Create a SQL Server database table
- Tune SQL Server performance with the Database Engine Tuning Advisor
- Configure SQL Server database auditing
- Set up SQL Server database replication
SQL Server Agent allows you to automate many of the routine administrative tasks that consume database administrator time. You can use SQL Server agent to create jobs that run on a periodic basis, jobs that are triggered by alerts and jobs that are initiated by stored procedures. These jobs may include steps that perform almost any administrative function, including backing up databases, executing operating system commands, running SSIS packages and more. For more information on SQL Server Agent, see our tutorial Automating Database Administration with SQL Server Agent.
SQL Server Configuration Manager is a snap-in for the Microsoft Management Console (MMC) that allows you to manage the SQL Server services running on your servers. The functions of SQL Server Configuration Manager include starting and stopping services, editing service properties and configuring database network connectivity options. Some examples of SQL Server Configuration Manager tasks include:
- Starting the SQL Server Agent Service (or other SQL Server services) with Configuration Manager
- Encrypting SQL Server database connections with SQL Server Configuration Manager
Books Online is an often overlooked resource provided with SQL Server that contains answers to a variety of administrative, development and installation issues. It's a great resource to consult before turning to Google or technical support. You can access SQL Server 2012 Books Online on the Microsoft website or you can also download copies of Books Online documentation to your local systems.
At this point, you should have a good understanding of the basic tools and services associated with Microsoft SQL Server 2012. While SQL Server is a complex, robust database management system, this core knowledge should orient you to the tools available to help database administrators manage their SQL Server installations and point you in the right direction to learn more about the world of SQL Server.
As you continue your SQL Server learning journey, I invite you to explore the many resources available on this site. You'll find tutorials that cover many of the basic administrative tasks performed by SQL Server administrators as well as advice on keeping your SQL Server databases secure, reliable and optimally tuned. You're also invited to join us in the About Databases Forum where many of your colleagues are available to discuss issues about SQL Server or other database platforms.