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Cloud technology was a global phenomenon just a few years ago, but it is now integral part of business operations. The cloud has been particularly helpful to companies that use collaborative software like Microsoft Office, specifically Excel and Access, as it allows for safe, quick and encrypted access to potentially sensitive data — from anywhere in the world.
If you are contemplating moving your collaborative software to the cloud, there are eight very clear benefits of doing so.
The cost of purchasing and installing sophisticated IT systems can be considerable, particularly for startups and small businesses. But using the remote servers of a cloud provider like Access Hosting means companies and relatively small organizations can bypass these costs and save money. There is no systems maintenance or management cost, but just a fixed monthly subscription that makes financial planning simple.
The use of collaborative software can pose significant security problems. Several users all accessing and sharing the same data via different devices is a situation with inherent risk. But cloud storage providers offer protection from all the latest viruses and malware. And depending on the provider, there may be the option of two-factor authentication at login. Most cloud providers offer automatic updates, which means businesses don’t need to pay IT specialists to update several physical servers and devices with the latest protection.
This brave new world of cloud computing is making the traditional office environment increasingly obsolete. Users with access to collaborative software in the cloud can view, share and update files from anywhere in the world with an Internet connection. That means you can collaborate in MS Access, Excel or even Quickbooks without having to physically be in the office. This can reduce costs, improve staff morale and boost productivity levels.
Most businesses have fluctuating bandwidth costs, so there’s often a need to scale up and scale down capacity at short notice. Cloud storage allows businesses to pay for only the capacity they need, rather than wasting cash on excess storage and bandwidth.
The success of collaborative software — such as the many packages developed by Microsoft Office 365- relies on the ability to share, view and edit files in real time. Any updates made to files in cloud storage are immediately available to all users, so they’re able to make their own contributions in the knowledge that they have the latest information at hand. Best of all, our terminal services collaboration plans allow for developers to leave their MS Access Database as-is and move it into the cloud seamlessly.
Every business needs to prepare for the worst when it comes to data storage. A man-made or natural disaster has the potential to wipe out a business’s data in seconds, so having a plan to continually back up data — and restore lost data — is essential. However, this can be a complex and costly process, and it can put a huge financial and administrative strain on small organizations. Collaborative software in the cloud usually includes disaster recovery measures, saving businesses time and money. Access Hosting takes daily backups of our architecture and you can add individual file backups for as little as $20/month.
Small businesses often struggle to compete financially with their larger competitors. Collaborative software in the cloud can level the playing field in this respect. Cloud computing is cheaper than installing and maintaining physical IT infrastructure, which makes it possible for smaller organizations to be competitive within their industries.
In an organization with hundreds of employees, it is inevitable that certain people will need to access sensitive files that aren’t for general consumption. Providers of cloud-based collaborative software offer varying levels of user access, so sensitive data remains private.
Cloud technology gives businesses flexibility, reliability and simplicity — and cuts the cost of doing business. This is why more and more organizations are transferring their collaborative software to the cloud.
Since it’s inception, Microsoft Access has been the go-to database for businesses of all shapes and sizes. Not surprisingly, as Access’s features and cloud capability have rapidly expanded over the years, so too have the different ways the technology is used. Here are a few of our favorites:
There are few things more valuable to a business than properly onboarding and training new employees. While for most companies the ROI on hiring and app developer for a training application wouldn’t be high enough to justify the cost, building them in house is an appealing option. And as the company’s hiring scales, moving the backend of the app to a server like Microsoft SQL Server will be a low-cost way to scale your training app with it.
For many small businesses, CRMs like Salesforce or Microsoft Dynamics are either too expensive or too cumbersome to implement. However, having accurate, up-to-date customer and prospect information is crucial to running client-facing departments . As an MS Access user, it’s more than likely that much of this data already exists there. By standardizing this information and creating relational tables for objects like leads and deals, you too can have a CRM without the cost and learning curve.
While we’re on the subject of prospects and customers, many of them will want to access some of the data that you store in your web database – for example, recent invoices or the date of their next appointment. You can easily deliver this data easily by offering them a form they can fill out on your site. ASP.NET forms can query a Microsoft Access online database directly, so by implementing them on your site, you can surface this data to your customers with limited effort from your developers.
If you’re like many, you’re using an endless string of VLOOKUPs in Excel to report on related data from different tables or sources. This is really a job for Microsoft Access’ relational tables. Built on top of Microsoft’s Jet Database Engine, you can use these powerful tools to easily create queries that quite literally fly.
If you’re in software development, one common practice you’re likely familiar with is creating waterfall models to manage the progress of an application. Since you may be creating an application that leverages Access or SQL Servers as your backend, why not keep track of your app’s progress there as well?
These are just a few of many ideas for uses for MS Access – the beauty of the software is that it’s uses are really only limited to the imagination<.
Splitting your Access database offers numerous advantages, including increased flexibility, security, efficiency, and scalability.
Access is an amazing and powerful desktop application that lets you store data and interface with that data in the same file. You can even design your own applications with Access. Unfortunately, the only way to utilize the full power of MS Access is to develop traditional local desktop based applications. Luckily, you can take your powerful MS Access applications with split frontend and backend to the cloud with Access Hosting’s Remote Desktop Hosting.
Most developers agree that a split database is easier to protect and maintain but unfortunately this powerful approach is completely incompatible with SharePoint. When you split an Access database file, you end up with two files instead of just one (often the backend is an .mdb file):
Now onto the top 10 reasons to split a Microsoft Access Database:
1: Multiple users share the data
Perhaps the biggest incentive for splitting a database is to supply data to multiple users over a local network or on the cloud via Access Hosting. By storing the backend on a local file server, SQL or other cloud based solution and distributing the front end to workstations and users, many users can access and manipulate the data at the same time without running into record locking and other problems.
2: Everyone’s using the same data at the same time
By splitting a database, you know that all users are accessing the most current data because everyone’s accessing the SAME data. Not only are they all accessing the same data, they can all update it at the same time. That means a change made by one user is almost immediately available to all other users.
Having a backend moves all the data into a single database file (.mdb) or backend ODBC connection (SQL, mySQL etc). That means there’s only one copy of that data to manage and protect. Changes are immediate and available to all authorized users. Any administrative and development duties are implemented in the backend file, once.
3: Your data is better protected
Whole books have been written on database security, but it’s enough for you to know that you must protect your data. One of the easiest ways is to split your database. Placing your tables in a backend file protects your database design because users can’t directly access the tables via the interface objects in the front end. Therefore, they can’t alter or delete tables, even accidentally. Most of the users working in the front end won’t realize they’re actually working with two separate files, so splitting the database will have NO Negative impact on your users.
However, this arrangement is not a comprehensive security lock on design. Users who know what they’re doing can still open the backend, if they have access to it. Just bear in mind that splitting the database will minimize accidents — but it won’t stop someone who’s determined to get at your tables.
If security is a of utmost importance, Access Hosting’s Remote Desktop hosting adds an additional layer of security – requiring users to login to the MS Access frontend. Users don’t even need to have Access installed on their computer! We even offer HIPAA compliant dedicated server solutions for healthcare and medical data. Moving your data to a SQL backend also adds additional security and features to an Access application.
4: You can easily scale your application for the future
If there’s any chance that your Access database will grow out of its skin, consider splitting the database. It’s easier to upsize a split database to SQL Server (or some other larger relational database system) because you can easily link the existing front end to SQL Server tables. That way, the organization has the advantage of storing data in a larger database with most of the perks that come with doing so, while still using the interface and all of the reports and queries that you originally designed in the Access front end.
5: The user interface is easy to modify
Most databases grow and change with the business; they require new features or modified business rules. Changes to existing tables are rare, if you properly normalized them early on. Most changes will be in the front end in the form of new or modified forms and reports.
As long as your database is split, testing and implementing changes to the front end can occur with little or no disruption to users. You simply link the development front end to the production backend and test away. This won’t always be the case, of course, but testing new interface objects is easier in a split database configuration.
6: Deploying a new front end is a snap
If the user interface and data are stored in the same database, you must REPLACE the entire database EVERY time changes are made in a local environment. With our RDP solution, you can keep your database and app contained all in one file and more easily replace them on our server in 1 location, but it’s still not ideal. That’s a lot of unnecessary work and is especially problematic if no one in-house has the expertise to do it for you or if you have to visit each user’s workstation.
In a split database configuration, you simply replace the front-end ms access file and relink the tables. It takes a few minutes and requires little interruption of users. With our RDP solution, you can even login and do this for every user to completely eliminate any application support issues.
7: It makes life easier for offsite developers
A split database is easier for offsite developers to maintain and upgrade. The developer works offsite to implement changes and enhancements to the front end and then ships the new version to someone in-house (or uploads it directly) who has the technical expertise to deploy it. This latter process is a simple copy and relinking task that doesn’t require high-end expertise. You can train someone to do it or even talk someone through it over the phone. Many developers write a routine that automates the process. All the in-house technician has to do is double-click the installation file. This opens up a lot of long distance opportunities that a developer just couldn’t manage as easily with a single database file. Access Developers out there should interested in making their lives easier and moving their clients to a cloud based hosting solution should contact us about our Partner and Referral program.
8: Geography’s not a problem
A split database allows users in different locations to access the same data. For example, the backend could be stored on our servers in our SAS70 data center in Philadelphia, but users from all over the country can access the data via their local systems connected to a SQL backend.
9: Corruption is limited
Access databases are prone to corruption. One of the easiest ways to avoid this problem is to implement a split database, which is less prone to corruption. Nothing is worse than having a user corrupt your backend data!
10: It’s easier to get individual users back on track
Security in the front end is one way to limit user interference. However, some users require more flexibility than others and there are always trade-offs. Some applications will require tight front-end security, while others will allow more freedom to tinker.
When a user tinkers to the point of destruction, a split database is easier to repair. Rather than bringing the entire application and all its users to a screeching halt, you have only one user who’s unable to work, momentarily because they broke their specific Access frontend and not the entire application. The fix is usually as simple as recopying the front end and overwriting the changes that the person made.
I hope this was helpful to people who have an Access application at their business. If anyone is looking to learn more about our Remote Desktop and or SQL backend hosting options, please do not hesitate to contact us or sign up for a free trial to try it for yourself.
An important feature of our remote desktop hosting service is the ability to upsize an Access database to SQL Server 2012 with the SQL Server Migration Assistant (free download link below)
Here is a video of the Migration Assistant in action:
Download the Microsoft SQL Server Migration Assistant for Access Databases
By combining a remote desktop Access frontend with a SQL Server on the same high speed switching fabric you get the best of both worlds: A secure, scalable database application combined with the ease of Microsoft Access on any device.
Here is a video overview of the Microsoft SQL Server Migration Assistant in action.
Your Remote instance of Access can now be paired with SQL Server over our high speed network switching fabric, eliminating the traditional latency of a web based SQL backed.
In many cases the migration assistant can be used effectively without outside assistance – but if you require a helping hand we can recommend qualified Access and SQL Server experts that can assist for a reasonable one time fee.
The Microsoft Access 2013 runtime has been released.
The wait is over for Access 2013 Runtime. Here are the download links for the last 3 versions of the MS Access Runtime environment. Remember that you can use these runtime packages to deploy Access Applications free of charge. They make a great low cost solution for putting legacy Access applications on the internet, the iPad, and most Android devices WITHOUT the hassle and expense of conversion using our Remote Desktop Hosting and SQL 2012 Hosting Plans.
We have been getting tons of requests from Access developers and DBAs about SQL Server 2012 (previously known as “Denali”) that need multiple databases and other more robust SQL 2012 options. Today we are pleased to announce the availability of Microsoft SQL Server 2012 Web Edition for $199/month.
This is the latest installment of Microsoft’s popular database and it includes a number of improvements over previous versions. New improvements SQL 2012 include AlwaysOn for higher availability, Contained Databases to improve on some of the authentication challenges associated with moving databases and FileTables for those apps that manage unstructured data that lives as files outside of the database.
Of course the big advantage of this plan to Access Developers is the ability to create an unlimited number of tables, databases and SQL user logins so that you can manage multiple clients, databases, projects and Access applications from the same secure cloud-based location. If you have any further questions, please check out our SQL 2012 webpage and feel free to chat online with a sales representative or contact us via email.