As a management consultant, I have worked with many organisations who have had a considerable investment in desktop applications built with Microsoft Access.
In general MS Access has been used to fill the void between excel spreadsheets and the most expensive options of enterprise server applications developed by IT departments.
Developers, in general, were members of a department and super users building forms and reports for themselves and their co-workers that were not available in the enterprise systems. In some cases, the IP invested in a few of these MS Access applications has over time made them almost irreplaceable. However, it is that situation making many IT managers pale at the mention of Microsoft Access due to the security issues they believe exists in securing pockets of critical data.
So part of the answer has been to re-platform Access tables on to mainstream databases like SQL Server, Oracle and MYSQL. In fact, we developed a small application called Corporate Access Connect to help organisations integrate those multiple SQL data sources into Access.
But now those IT departments have a greater issue to deal with from an increasing demand for applications in the cloud and on mobile devices.
So how are they going to rebuild the functionality invested in their Access applications without investing considerable time, effort and money into redevelopment process?
Alternatively do they leave them on Access or retire them all together?
Back in 2013, we had a very similar problem ourselves with a large MS Access application of over 75,000 lines that needed to be capable of being available from a browser on the desktop or mobile and deployed natively on a phone or tablet.
We needed an efficient, cost effect and fast way of converting to a cloud-based software as a service model, so we decided to look for a Rapid Application Development platform to migrate our own Access applications and to build a variety of new products that had been on the drawing board for some time.
We looked at a few mobile application development products and services and were a bit overwhelmed by the dozens of options available, ranging from products for enterprises with deep pockets to inexpensive tools that integrate some of the open source standards.
The inbuilt robust security features were another important factor in our decision making.
We have been using the Alpha Anywhere framework for two years now and we are more than impressed. Our business continuity exercise and training management software, Senareo Desktop, will soon be released as a cloud based software as a service.
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