Almost every business has use for a good database. Many simply turn to Microsoft Access as the solution, since it is already included in their Microsoft Suite. A software firm developing an application, however, will take database limitations under consideration and will determine the best database for the project. In-house deployment means having to make those decisions without the assistance of a development vendor. While small, in-house projects might seem to be a good fit for Access, the developers should be aware of the limitations and weigh them against potential growth and future needs, just as a professional would do for a client.
Consider how experienced design firms make database determinations. When exploring application designs for their clients, five particular factors would likely take Access out of contention as a database solution. Current and future needs would both fall under consideration in the assessment.
Once more than a few users begin to access the database concurrently, Access performance begins to degrade. With larger or more complex applications, lag times begin with just two or three users. This means Access is at its best when the users will be consistently confined to a small group, or even a single user.
The larger the Access database size, the more quickly stability becomes an issue. Larger sizes become more problematic with increased concurrent users. The Access databases themselves have a maximum limit of 2 GB, which many small businesses can reach quickly today.
When Access applications grow complex, reliability begins to suffer. The more complex the applications are, the slower the response times when using them. This means an application of moderate complexity will begin to have stability issues with a moderate number of users. The problems will worsen if the number of users, database size or application complexity increases. Integration with other systems and functions would be difficult at best.
Limited Online Functionality
Access is intended primarily for desktop usage, though it does have support for connection over a LAN. Online accessibility to it requires implementing third-party solutions for remote connectivity. It’s not a practical arrangement unless total users will still remain a very small number.
Limited Mobile Expansion
The need for mobile connectivity reaches many small businesses as they discover the benefits and requirements of the new mobile world. The ability to run a mobile version of an Access database, however, is not the same as running a mobile app that remotely accesses and uses a full database. The other Access limitations still apply, making the attempt more impractical than online accessibility.
Transitioning from a familiar and comfortable desktop solution to a feature-rich RDBMS is daunting, but it is necessary for many businesses, even small ones. Understanding the limits of desktop solutions helps in moving toward more practical, relational database application development. An accomplished design company can guide a business through the process and toward a full, scalable solution. Many businesses fear the expense involved in such a project, but keep in mind that the loss in productivity and functionality would be far more significant.
Samantha Stainsburry is a freelance blogger from Charlottesville, VA. She’s a major history buff, and loves living in Thomas Jefferson’s hometown. In her free time she enjoys hiking, reading, and finding new music among other things. Her personal ambition is to beat Ken Jennings’ Jeopardy record with her vast trivia knowledge. She recommends consulting with SolutionStream for your database development needs.