As Microsoft's solutions have grown more capable, they've also grown more complex to implement. But Microsoft's Patterns and Practices Library, a hidden gem in Microsoft's online information store, can help. The Patterns and Practices Library—a collection of books written by Microsoft Program Support Services (PSS) personnel, Microsoft consultants, and product team members—contains Microsoft's best practices and field-proven advice for implementing key technologies, from Active Directory planning to application architecture to coding examples. You can download all the books from the Patterns and Practices Library free as PDF files or purchase them on CD-ROM or in hard copy at http://www.microsoft.com/patterns. Here are my five favorite database-centric guidebooks in Microsoft's Patterns and Practices Library.

5. Data Access Architecture Guide


This guide presents the basic concepts of how to access and update databases through ADO.NET. It covers the ADO.NET architecture and shows examples of using the DataSet object and stored procedures. This book isn't up-to-date with the latest release of ADO.NET and the .NET Framework, but its information is still valid.

4. Data Access Application Block for .NET v2


More than a book, this guide provides a .NET data-access component called SqlHelper, which can help you call stored procedures and create T-SQL queries for SQL Server databases from your Visual Studio .NET projects. This book documents SqlHelper's internal design and how to use SqlHelper in your applications.

3. Designing Data Tier Components and Passing Data Through Tiers


This book discusses creating .NET data-access components and provides guidelines for mapping data-access components to business entities, such as customers and orders. It also discusses strategies for optimistic and pessimistic data concurrency, COM interoperability, and transactions.

2. Microsoft SQL Server High Availability Guides


The first volume of this two-volume set, SQL High Availability Planning, describes how to overcome the barriers to high availability by using redundant components and servers. The second volume, SQL High Availability Deployment, shows how to implement failover clustering, log shipping, and transactional replication.

1. Building Secure ASP.NET Applications


When you're building Web applications, security is your main concern. This guide provides a thorough discussion of the security concerns involved in different types of Web applications, including intranet, extra-net, and Internet applications. This book also provides advice about designing an application's architecture (e.g., where to put your Web and database servers in relation to your demilitarized zone—DMZ), setting up Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) and IP Security (IPSec), and coding connection strings.