One of the prime uses of computers, since their inception, has been the manipulation of data. Databases by the millions have been created and manipulated by computers for decades. As computers have become more sophisticated, so has the software used to drive their functions. One of the most popular database application computer languages these days is Structured Query Language (SQL). This language powers simple and complex database management protocols, from basic data input and deletion to complicated queries, manipulation, and reporting of the highest order.
Many individual desktop or laptop computers run database programs powered by SQL. These days, SQL is the norm for such things. However, it is also powerful enough to handle enterprise functionality for mainframes, servers, and enterprise protocols. It is this kind of data manipulation activity that gets the big names of Oracle and IBM involved.
These two companies, more than any other, have pioneered the adoption of SQL as the primary database manipulation language. As powerful as SQL is, however, it has its limits. It is primarily a query-based language, and that accurately describes its limitations as well. The queries SQL runs can be as demanding as programmers or systems managers can imagine, but in the end, SQL won't do more than it is asked to do. Data management departments that want more expandable database functionality would do well to look to BASIC, C, C++, or various Web-based languages instead.
Still, if database querying and reporting are what you need the most, the chances are excellent that the database application you use to perform such tasks runs on SQL. Programmers design SQL to be fast and efficient. One pleasant consequence of its limited functionality is that it performs its designated tasks very quickly indeed. Data retrieval, even of large amounts of data, is nearly instantaneous. Data manipulation takes a bit longer in millisecond terms, but the difference won't likely be noticeable to human users. In this case, limited functionality is not a drawback, but an advantage.
It's not only Oracle and IBM that are designing in SQL these days, however. Many others are doing so as well. Not surprisingly, Microsoft is at the head of this class. The Windows creator has its own version of SQL, which is more server-based and consequently called Microsoft SQL Server. Microsoft's wildly popular Access database program runs this version of SQL. Other familiar SQL-based database programs include FileMaker Pro, FoxPro, and the open source-based MySQL.