Given the complexities of doing business today, including the need to work remotely due to the Covid pandemic, is it time to finally migrate your MS Access application to the Web?
Hi, I’m Sean O’Kelly, owner of XAPP Design, Inc., and we have developed around 200 MS Access applications over the past 22 years.
Our focus has been, and always will be, what is in the best interest of our clients. We use a variety of platforms to develop applications for our clients. MS Access is one tool we use, but we also do custom web and mobile applications and have platforms for those.
We are now seeing a movement by our own clients, and by large segments of the MS Access user community, to try and migrate to web based systems. From experience we know this can be a challenging move.
Industry Challenges and Changes
Let’s review a few things happening now that are impacting the industry and causing businesses to make the decision to migrate their MS Access app to the web:
- Numerous US states have agreed to band together and drop Microsoft Office 365 and move to Google cloud. This is a long range plan and estimated to take a year or two at least. This is causing agency departments within those states to make a move from MS Access to another solution (as Google has no replacement for MS Access). Here is a link to just one such story from my home state, but there are a bunch of states making this move: https://governor.wv.gov/News/press-releases/2020/Pages/Gov.-Justice-State-to-save-projected-$11.5-million-with-transition-to-Google-Workspace.aspx
- Due to Covid requiring people to work from home, using MS Access over a VPN connection presents all kinds of issues, not the least of which is performance. One could go to Citrix (and use MS Access through that), or virtual PC’s now being offered, but then there are licensing issues, additional cost, user training, etc. Using MS Access over VPN can cause a variety of issues: a decrease in productivity because it’s slow, potential data corruption, record and file locking issues, just to name a few.
- IT departments have always tried to shun away from MS Access, but because users required it, they had to stick with it. However, now, due to Covid restrictions and the need to use VPN, the primary users are finding MS Access to be a problem as much as a solution. This is a fundamental shift in the user community for MS Access and this sentiment will most likely grow.
- MS Access is an easy development tool to use for creating an application to store data and allow easy creation of data entry forms, and because it’s part of the Microsoft Office Suite, people can freely use it. However, this ease of use has lead to many security vulnerabilities within organizations and has lead to outright data theft in many cases. What has been an asset in the past, gets turned into a liability today.
- Microsoft for years has tried to move MS Access to the web in order to keep up with other web databases, but without much success. However, I think the end is in sight now due to the clamoring from users to find a solution to the remote work issues. This external push may finally give MS a final justification for ending MS Access support. We have no way of really knowing, but the writing is on the wall.
New Technology Presents Opportunity
Besides the issues driving conversions to a web based system, the pace of change in the software development industry has brought about new technologies making it much easier to take the leap. Let’s take a look at some of those advancements:
- Web based database storage systems are now readily available and affordable, such as AWS, Azure, Google Cloud, etc.
- With the right tools you can easily connect those web based database storage systems to websites and mobile apps, and manage the data using a dashboard or portal of some kind.
- More MS Access developers, such as my company XAPPDesign.com, are becoming experts at converting MS Access databases to web and mobile based systems. We’ve done so many of these conversions that we can help you navigate the issues to a successful conclusion.
- Rapid Application Development (RAD) tools, such as the highly rated Alpha Anywhere IDE by Alpha Software, can greatly reduce the time it takes to convert your app. With conversion tools and helpers built in, you could have a basic web app with an administrative dashboard up and running quickly – greatly reducing the cost traditionally associated with conversions. Alpha Software puts on a free conference call each week to learn about their product.
- Help in the form of online video conferencing such as the Independent Application Developers Network – found at http://iadn.com. You can attend a free video conference IADN hosts each week and learn valuable insights from other developers.
Let’s Talk About It
As you can see, there are many issues driving the desire to move from MS Access to more modern web and mobile based systems, and, we now have the tools available to rapidly develop a new system for you. If you are even remotely considering taking the step then please reach out to us today to discuss your situation.