Microsoft hasn't done a very good job of helping customers use its products and technologyeffectively, but it's not for lack of trying. The company spends immense amounts of money and timeproviding an overwhelming amount of information that's designedto help us succeed. But the vast amount of information is part of theproblem. I could readSQL Server-related information on Microsoft's Web site 24 hours a dayfor weeks and weeks and never finish. Sometimes it feels like I'mdrowning in a sea of answers. More often than not, the answer to my question is available, but whereexactly in Microsoft's ocean of information do I find it? The "SQL Server 2000 Operations Guide," a new document from Microsoft, can help you find the answers you need. You can find the document on Microsoft's Web site .

The document's introduction hits SQL Server professionals right where they live:"Are you responsible for keeping your organization's database systems up andrunning? Are you the one they call in the middle of the night if thedatabase server is down? If so, the 'SQL Server 2000 Operations Guide' is foryou.To manage SQL Server in a day-to-day environment, an operations team needsto perform a wide variety of procedures, including server monitoring,backup, verification of scheduled events, capacity planning, and developerand end-user support. This guide includes instructions for the proceduresalong with steps for dealing with unresolved issues in a timely manner. The content of the Operations Guide draws from the knowledge and best-practice guidelines from Microsoft Consulting Services (MCS), Microsoft's Internal Technical Support Group, and the SQL Server Development Team."

When it comes to solving today's information-overload problem, focusing on best practices—instead of every conceivable practice—is the right direction. After all, you don't want all the answers, just the best answers to the questions that concern you. When properly written, best-practices compilations contain that information. If Microsoft is smart, it will ramp up its technical-publications engine to produce many more documents like the extremely useful Operations Guide.