Databases and the forms generated from them are used daily in many businesses and corporate work. For both organizational and practical reasons, it is increasingly useful to access them alternately online or remotely, as well as directly.
Databases: A Layered Structure
A relational database application is generally made up of three layers. These tiers are the data, the interface and the logic.
- Data consists of tables in which data is stored.
- Interfaces consist of forms through which your users interact with the data in the tables.
- Logic is the code which allows you to automate tasks and manage both data and interface objects.
Tools to Manage Business Databases
For over 30 years, management applications have been developed using 4GL (4th Generation Language) software development kits such as PowerBuilder, WinDev, FoxPro, Uniface, Visual Basic or Delphi.
These tools make it possible to generate Windows applications, installing them on each user PC. That application is what communicates with the company’s centralized data bank. That database can be hosted on company premises or online.
SQL to Manage Databases Online
The Database Management System (DBMS) could be Oracle, MS-SQL, My-SQL, PHP, .net, SQL Server, SQL Azure… The tasks programmed in these classical environments use SQL queries to view, process and transfer information between the graphical app on the user’s workstation and the database on the server which has as primary function the centralization of company data.
Data could also be kept on an IBM proprietary computer, in which case the graphical application would be an IBM terminal emulator (3250 or 3270).
An aside about bringing MS Access databases online
- Access 2010 and Access Services are no longer in use since 2010 Web Application Service has been removed
- Access, in its original build, was ONLY viable in a Windows environment. It was meant to be run on a wired LAN and not made to work over Internet. Thus, both Access web databases (Access 2010) and Access web apps (Access 2013), were attempts to add interface objects that would make it possible to manipulate databases on the Web. Hence SharePoint lists (2010 version) and SQL Azure tables (2013 version) which are accessible via the internet. Microsoft clearly stopped its “webification” when it abandoned those paths and deleted them from its servers.
- If you still have an Access database and wish to access it online, the place to start is by web-enabling the front-end (the application used to access the information in the database). This needs to be done so that the tables are in the “back-end” and the forms, queries, reports, etc. are in the “front-end” and accessible to all. Once that is done, whether you keep the back end on servers on your company’s premises or move everything into the cloud is up to you.
“Front-End” of a Business Database
In a previous article I wrote about the pros and cons of web-enabling apps versus re-writing them for the web. Aside from potential instabilities and the time-consuming aspect of reengineering stable applications, an important point was the risk of ending up with a rather static front-end while most people are now so used to intuitive and fluid interfaces. This can also apply here.
Of course, when you’ve heavily invested in software, it can be difficult to let go of it, not just because it can mean new training investments. The question of migrating a database or changing its front-end can bring up similar issues, still maybe a half-way solution is a better solution in cases where one aspect of the database need not be touched.
“Client-Server” Architecture of a Database
With centralized applications, the Data Server can also act as an Application Server. Nevertheless, most businesses prefer to opt for a “client-server” architecture. Indeed, that enables them to share the load by using the local memory and power for all the “front-end” data treatment, leaving the central server to only handle the back-office tasks. In this configuration, each PC generates a Graphical User Interface (GUI) to enable the data to be processes according to each user’s requirements.
Limitations of a Direct Client-Server Database Structure
This “client-server” structure is the most commonly used method for business administration applications (payroll, accounting, stocks, billing…) but its limitations are beginning to show. Indeed, the client part being by definition Windows based, it cannot be installed on Android tablets or smartphones. Moreover, it forces companies to accordingly manage the PC parks they deploy, with individual updates of each workstation for every new version of the client-side software installed on each PC.
Increased need to Access Databases Remotely
Remote work and mobility are becoming a widely accepted expectation in more and more businesses as well as among employees. Meanwhile, solutions such as Microsoft RDS and Citrix remain complex and costly. They are reserved for large corporations since SMBs seldom have the means to implement them.
Simple Solution to Remotely Access Databases Online
The TSplus Remote Access solution in its Web Access form is ideal to enable all businesses, whatever their size, to address this issue. Indeed, by installing TSplus Remote Access on the one master PC or server where the database front-end client is hosted, you have, in a few minutes, an operational architecture. The advantage is that the way the existing applications are used goes unchanged. The addition of TSplus software leaves it intact, but for the fact you will from then on be able to access your business database online, whether locally or remotely.
Virtually no Change to Access your Business Database Online and Remotely
TSplus Remote Access an amazing way to automatically turn your current field proven IT infrastructure into the most easy to use Web portal-based remote access solution. For your remote staff and users and so you can increase work from home, it is the one truly simple, easily installed and reasonably priced solution.
Lagging in Standard Access to Business Databases
One thing you’ll be interested to know is that TSplus can improve the performance of your Accounting or Retail Access database by making it over ten times faster. Indeed, as the number of users and the size of the file increases, the flat-file structure of the Access database means accessing it directly and manipulating the data will take longer and longer. This slowdown in use of the application is unfortunately not linear but rather, the effect compounds, especially when the file reaches 100MB and more in size.
Speedy Remote Access to Business Databases with TSplus
This is where TSplus Remote Access shines. By turning the host where the Access database is stored, in-house tests on a datafile of 1GB have returned spectacular speed improvements. With a conventional set-up with the data on the server and the accounting application running on the user workstation, a particular report was processed in 8 minutes. Whereas, with the same datafile stored on a Remote Access server, the process was reduced to only about 40 seconds.
Safe Databases Thanks to Remote Access by TSplus
One final perk that is worth noting is file integrity. Clients came to us with problems concerning corrupt data. After switching over to TSplus technology, the performance was not only significantly improved but the database also showed no more signs of corruption issues. So be it for stability or speed, TSplus is at hand and the team is available for advice and help.
To find out more about TSplus Remote Access and our other software, visit our website and download a 15-day trial of any TSplus product.