MS SQL Server Indexed View Defined

Data Warehousing Sep 20, 2012 No Comments

For many years and versions, the MS SQL Server database platform has supported the ability to create virtual tables known as views.  Views in SQL Server can be defined as a stored select statement on a base table.  Data in a view is not stored in the database and the result set is determined while the view is executed. Traditionally, views provide a security mechanism that restricts users to a certain subset of data in one or more base tables or provide a mechanism that allow developers to customize how users can logically view the data stored in base tables.  Prior to the addition of indexed views in SQL Server, views never contained indexes of their own.

Starting with Microsoft SQL Server 2000, indexed views are views whose results are persisted in the database (similar to tables) and contain database indexes for fast retrieval of data.  A database index is a data structure that improves the speed of data retrieval operations on a database table at the cost of slower writes and increased storage space.  Indexed views work best when the underlying data is infrequently updated. The maintenance of an indexed view can be higher than the cost of maintaining a table index. If the underlying data is updated frequently, then the cost of maintaining the indexed view data may outweigh the performance benefits of using the indexed view.

The main benefit of an indexed view is query optimization and faster query performance. Because the indexed view physically exists on disk, there can be substantial savings in response time to queries that involve the indexed view. Additionally data within the  indexed view can store joins between tables, can store a subset of fields and/or records that exist within a table, can store calculations of table fields, and can store aggregations or groupings of data.  Thus less data is retrieved in a query of  the the indexed table than the  query of the base tables.  And finally, indexed views utilize performance-enhancing indexes corresponding to its own data where ordinary views only utilize indexes related to the indexes in its base table.

The main costs of an indexed view are additional maintenance of the indexes, additional disk space taken up by both the indexed view and related indexes, additional overhead of maintaining the view on disk as the base tables are modified. One must weigh the cost to maintain the index against the benefit of query optimization provided by the index. When the underlying tables are subject to significant inserts, updates, and deletes, be very careful in selecting the indexes (both table and view) that will provide the greatest coverage across your queries for the lowest cost.

Typically, environments that are best suited for indexed views are analytical data repositories such as data warehouses and data marts. Analytical data repositories require rapid query speeds and the underlying data changes infrequently.

The syntax to create a Indexed View in SQL Server is:

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