Why is SQL so popular?

We live in a world flooded with information. If we had to bet on which asset has the highest volume in the software industry, the answer would be the data with no doubt. The tricky part when it comes to profit from these data is being able to select and retrieve the data that really matters and to organize them so that we can draw conclusions, make predictions, or manipulate them.

There are indeed countless companies that specialize on exhaustively collecting and organizing data sell conclusions derived from them. In this article, we will see one of the technologies that provide a solution to the need of managing huge amounts of information: SQL.

Managing databases is a quite complex endeavour, but its difficulty has been considerably mitigated thanks to the SQL programming language. The acronym SQL stands for Structured Query Language and its objective is to create, extract and manipulate information stored in databases. For now, I will not delve into the specific elements of this language but I will explain at a high level its origins and utility.

SQL was born in the 1970s; The company IBM created a new software for managing databases called System R. SQL was created to manage the data stored in System R. Since then, SQL has evolved and nowadays it offers great flexibility to users since it supports databases which work on several computer networks.

Nowadays SQL is the standard database query language and is used in both business and academic settings. Its success is due in part to the fact that it has become increasingly affordable thanks to the advent of Open Source database management systems like MySQL or PostgreSQL.

SQL: same core but different applications

As I mentioned before SQL has evolved since its creation, thereby incorporating new functionalities. Some of the most useful features that have been added over time are triggers, or XML support.

Given the ample range of needs that each company and user have, all SQL  applications are grouped into different systems that share a common SQL basis. Think about SQL as a language with different dialects that share a core grammar and vocabulary: each SQL variant provides different functionalities that satisfy some specific needs.

For this reason many Open Source database systems such as MySQL do not implement all the standard SQL functionalities. Due to this, although all SQL solutions have the same basis, these are usually not compatible.

Perhaps the reason why SQL is so popular today is that it offers a high degree of data structuring; SQL is characterized by using relational database management systems, in other words, the information is contained in tables that are connected through various types of links. This enables companies to quickly extract and manipulate data and flexibly analyse it from different angles.

More info in:

SQL (Structured Query Language)

What Is SQL and How Is It Used?