In this article we will evaluate if MS Access can be used for Web Applications and if yes to what extent if we are running Access on a SharePoint Server.
Microsoft has lately been promoting the use of SharePoint for housing your Access application, as one of the best methods of developing Access web applications in a way that they can have significant web presence. Since SharePoint is hosted on a web server and can be accessed using a browser, it provides scope for accessing all your Access applications on SharePoint on the Web, thus enabling you to create access web applications. However, if you are creating Access web applications, it is important for you to understand that these are not the best option for large scale business sites as opposed to say departmental sites. This is true primarily because they too come with their own share of limitations, a few of which are discussed below.
Not Suitable for Public Sites when implemented on SharePoint Server
The critical factor determining the limitations in Access Web apps is SharePoint itself. Access itself cannot determine these limitations. SharePoint does not allow for anonymous access to the SharePoint site that has been created, to be able to access it, the users will be required to log in to SharePoint site. For this, they will also be required to have a valid id and password.
Although you can make use of workarounds for dealing with this limitation, restricting user access to only a portion of the SharePoint application is difficult. Once the user has been authenticated by the SharePoint security system, they will then have access to all the services in the application/ SharePoint Site. By setting restrictions on what can and cannot be accessed by a given user, means determining specific access for specific users throughout SharePoint site.
Users should know that SharePoint is not an ordinary web development tool that can be used for general purposes, it is a tool that has been designed primarily for providing a platform to allow sharing of documents.
Limited Number of Data Rows
Whenever users are making use of Access application, they have a certain set of expectations regarding the performance; which might not always get fulfilled when using SharePoint, as it is not an exceptionally high performing database system. The best performance; according to Microsoft, will be delivered if the number of rows in an upsized Access application has been limited to 20,000. And if you are making use of a small application, then the number of data rows is further reduced to 10,000 per table, with not more that 10 – 20 tables.
Modest Transactional Requirements
Traditional web applications provide users with the advantage of being scaled to any audience (virtually). However the bottleneck in the performance here for web applications is the web server as well as the software it has been paired with. This problem can be resolved by making use of greater hardware along with load balancing techniques, this will lead to a distribution of the user demand among several database servers.
An Access web application hosted on SharePoint cannot be used as a platform for allowing multiple simultaneous users for making changes to the data. Although SharePoint makes use of SQL Server databases as supporting databases for Access, updating database gets real slow, as compared to update speed when using SQL tables. Last but not the least even if you are running just an internal Access application on a SharePoint server, do keep a tool that can fix Access corruption for emergencies.
Vivian Stevens is a data recovery expert in DataNumen, Inc., which is the world leader in data recovery technologies, including SQL Server repair and excel recovery software products. For more information visit www.datanumen.com