OK, sort of.
I've been a fan of the Economist magazine since a friend of mine in Florida introduced me to it years ago. Imagine my shock when I check out the latest issue and find a story about - Big Data! This is the kind of thing we think about all the time in the SQL Server group here at Microsoft. Then when I read the article, I find this stunning bit of information: did you know that Wal-Mart handles more than 1m customer transactions every hour, feeding databases at more than 2.5 petabytes – the equivalent of 167 times the books in Americ’s Library of Congress?
And Wal-Mart uses SQL Server. And SQL Server 2008, no less - with Policy Based Management at the forefront of helping them track this all. Also, if you read the article, you'll see that Craig Mundie (Microsoft) and Eric Schmidt (yeah, the boss of Google) both sit on a presidential task force dealing with health care data.
This is heady stuff. Sometimes I get asked if SQL Server can scale, if it's really different than it used to be - and since I live and breathe the database world, I'm surprised by the question. But when I think how quickly we've moved into the upper tiers of the enterprise, I'm not as surprised.
Definitely check out the article here: http://www.economist.com/specialreports/displayStory.cfm?story_id=15557443. For more about a REALLY big SQL Server, check this out: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/aa226316%28SQL.70%29.aspx. and Gizmodo (a must-follow blog) has a good story on Pivot (hit the link if you don't know what that is) here: http://gizmodo.com/5488641/, Awesome.
What exactly is a SQL Server? I know this is probably a very stupid question, but what is it?
It's not a stupid question at all. I've got a quick rundown on that answer here: http://www.informit.com/guides/content.aspx?g=sqlserver&seqNum=6