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It'd be we nice to think that our data magically appears in our database, is updated there, is manipulated and reported on there, and never needs to go anywhere else or come from anywhere else. But that's not the case and that is where SQL Server Integration Services comes in. This is the part of SQL Server 2008 that deals with getting data into our databases or extracting it and moving it somewhere else. This can range from the very simple, where Integration Services will take care of importing a one-off collection from an old access database, to very complex indeed.
Importing data from multiple sources including other databases, having flat files and XML documents, and being able to clean this information all up, in some cases of standardizing it, in other cases transforming it and performing computations on it, and then merging all this and storing the results in the database. And then perhaps most importantly, being able to take all these operations and package them all up so they can be repeated on demand. And in fact doing this is called a SQL Server Integration Services or SSIS Package.
Now the simpler kinds of operations in SQL Server Integration Services can be done just by using the SQL Server Import and Export Wizard that you'll find in SQL Server Management Studio, but more complex packages can be created using the Business Intelligence Development Studio or Visual Studio and creating what's called an Integration Services project where you can describe your different data sources, how you connect to them, and what you do with that data when you've gotten it. Unlike many other parts of SQL Server you can probably tell that this in itself can get to be a very substantial area that you could spend a lot of time in, but we can certainly get started by exploring some of the more common tasks with SQL Server Integration Services.
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