Question 4 -– What are your recommendations?
Although the ability to configure the collation at numerous levels is available, it can quickly cause some confusion. My recommendation is to keep all of these settings consistent at the SQL Server level and consider each setting prior to installing the SQL Servers in your environment. If you are in an organization with a limited amount of resources for SQL Servers and have the need to manage various data sets, at a minimum ensure these settings are consistent at the database level. Seriously consider the need to change the collation settings at the column level and explore all options for the ideal solution.
Needless to say, the collation settings as all other SQL Server settings should be documented and communicated clearly, because with these settings query results among various SQL Servers or databases may yield unexpected results. These unexpected results can cause a great deal of consternation that can be easily prevented with simple communication. For Yukon, the next release of SQL Server, Microsoft is rumored to be applying the same level of flexibility to new configuration parameters to ease the SQL Server management. Check out some of the new Yukon functionality at An Overview of SQL Server Yukon for the DBA.
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This was first published in February 2004