A while back I ran across a blog post that talks about the difference between database snapshots and database backups. There are certainly some similarities and some differences, as well as an overlap in the places where you might choose to use each of these technologies. Both might be useful as a way to recover from a bad code deployment, but both aren’t necessarily helpful for a DR situation where the primary server has a catastrophic hardware failure.
It’s often the case that we learn only a bit about some of the technologies in SQL Server. That’s understandable as the platform has grown very complex, encompassing a vast array of technologies and options. There is often some overlap between them and possibly different places where you might choose to use one or the other to solve a problem.
In plenty of cases, one technology will stand out, especially when you have gathered enough requirements to understand the entire situation. More information can help you narrow down your choices, and even make a decision, if you know both (or all) the technologies well.
The key here is that as you look for solutions, you should be sure that you understand the technologies well. Dive deep into each of your choices and make an effort to determine the positives and negatives, the advantages of one over the other, as well as the limitations or holes that may be present. You can work often work around limitations, but you should be aware of what they are.
We can’t learn everything today, or even everything that we need to know in a short period of time. However, when we are faced with a situation that has multiple solutions and unfamiliar technologies, we should ensure that we try to learn, ask questions, and do our best to understand the boundaries of the question and the technologies that might solve our problem.