Thursday, November 29, 2007

Niche or Mainstream Access ~ Is this the magic pill

“A Magic Pill for MSAccess”

After reading Gary's last article on MSAccess and IT departments I was compelled to write this article. Why do IT departments hate MSAccess, here are a few reasons from my experience :

1 Slows even with a few concurrent users
2 Chews up network bandwidth
3 Does not work well over a wireless network
4 The slowest computer decreases performance of all users
5 Corrupted databases are mainly caused by network failure.

The magic pill, remote desktop. Using solutions such as Terminal Services and Winconnect will give life to your MSAccess application that was simply not achievable before. How do I know, this is our preferred recommendation for all companies that purchase our product. We sell a mission critical application for the fashion industry, it runs their entire business and is written entirely in MSAccess. Our target market is 1 to 30 users , we have been criticized for not moving it to SQL and .Net but with a RAD development environment and a feature set other applications would die for, MSAccess is the right product for us.

How does it work: Using a product such as Terminal Services allows users to connect to a single box which holds and runs the MSAccess application. Users use a RDP connection to connect to the box, login to a windows desktop and use the application like any other application. In fact the box is a windows box with all your normal software applications installed (licensing applies).

Performance increases and corruption decreases simply because you have now removed the network component from the equation. Even if the connection is lost, you have not terminated your session. When you reconnect, you connect back to the same session.

Users can also connect to the box via the internet, all of sudden you can work remotely from your office. Support staff love it and your application becomes more manageable. Support and training can be done remotely, similar to products such as Nortons PC-Anywhere, where RDP work much faster. For internally used applications there is no need to ever write a browser based application.

Setting up Terminal Services and Winconnect is relatively straight forward. Most IT professionals have used it, the trick is in how to setup your MSAccess application. We have a front and back end application. When a user logs in (unique session username and password) they get a mapped local drive L: which maps to their own folder where a copy of the front end application is held. Every user has their own copy and this eliminates problems you might have with front end application settings.

Terminal Services runs on a Window Server where Winconnect runs on any Windows Operating system. The main difference is cost and security, we tend to install Terminal Services with companies over 5 users. However Winconnect will work fine up to 25 users also the cost is cheaper. Try it for USD $300 for 3 licenses it is worth experimenting on, you will be pleasantly surprised.

Peter Pakarinen heads development for Niche Fashion Technology and has been working with MSAccess since MSAccess 95. NFT uses TS extensively in its own company and that of it’s clients.

Peter Pakarinen
Niche Fashion Technology
Software for the fashion industry : POS, Retail, Management.


Anonymous said...

In my experience IT depts hate Access because
(1) IT depts only like what they can centrally control. They don't like applications that the user can modify and break, and then call the help desk to fix. Access databases are viewed like mushrooms that grow under the desk and are probably poisonous.
(2) IT depts always set up Access databases incorrectly. IT always takes the short cut of everyone using the same front end hosted on a network drive. Users don't know how to set up Access databases either. Therefore the databases are viewed as being unreliable.

--Rick B

Anonymous said...

IT depts hate Access because of a fundamental organizational discrepancy. IT depts love central planning (think 1970's management). All decisions are made once by a central planner, implemented once, and the users have to live with that. Access users live in a more de-centralized mode of decision making, where decisions, databases, and processes are allowed to bubble up from the front lines.

--Rick B

Anonymous said...

My business has been MS Access for over 8 years, and currently have over 120 cutomers nationwide. We use the classic front-end/back-end configuration with linked tables.

Of course we have ran across a few IT departments that are SQL or nothing, but for the most part IT is happy to know that we will be responsible for trouble calls and maintaining the software, rather than IT.

We have just begung to work with WinConnect, and see it as a great way to extend Access even further.
In addition, we are planning to move to an Access front-end and SQL Server back-end with linked tables. This gives us the RAD of Access and the stored procedures advantage of SQL.

Richard O

Anonymous said...

I work at major financials, and my recollection is that they implement Citrix. The remote Access solution is great, as long as the costs are kept down.

At one client we were able to piggy-back on an existing solution, and the performance was excellent for the teams distributed across US, Europe, and Asia. More recently, an Access application that replicates between NY and London worked great locally, but was horrible for those on continental Europe.

I had always advocated Citrix, but project lead wouldn't follow up. When she left and I had a chance to push Citrix for Asia, I found the costs prohibiitve, at least within the project constraints. The IT staff required 2 servers per 20 userrs, the minimum, and first year implementation was $80,000, at which we balked.

Anonymous said...

I can confirm the relevance of Terminal Services. I find that the real virtue of Access is speed of implementation. My major customer is remote from me and frequently needs a new facility which I develop overnight in a front end/back end environment and deliver as a separate password protected module. Terminal Services has eased this process dramatically.